Last reviewed 5 July 2022
New guidance has been published for healthcare professionals (HCPs) and their employers on who can now issue fit notes.
The guidance, issued by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Work and Pensions, provides advice to doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and their employers about certifying fit notes and summarises the knowledge, skills, experience and training that HCPs eligible to sign fit notes are expected to have.
Whilst multi-professional working has seen some HCPs with the relevant skills and experience support work and health conversations, only registered medical practitioners have previously been legally permitted to certify fit notes.
The guidance recognises that healthcare professionals from a range of disciplines now play a central role in leading the delivery of healthcare and support for patients, including enabling people to manage their health and wellbeing by safely remaining in or returning to work wherever possible.
With effect from 1 July 2022, amended legislation now enables nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists to certify fit notes in addition to doctors. The legislation is permissive, meaning these HCPs can legally certify a fit note but are not required to do so.
Individuals should consider their scope of practice and ensure they have the relevant skills, knowledge and experience before undertaking health and work conversations, and making decisions around certifying fit notes.
The changes aim to provide “a seamless, faster system for patients”, improve continuity of care, reduce bureaucracy in the healthcare system and fully utilise skills by enabling relevant HCPs to conduct health and work conversations and certify fit notes.
More information is available from the GOV.UK website.