The Government have announced today (13 June 2022) that with effect from 1st July 2022 legislation is being introduced across Great Britain that will allow more healthcare professionals to certify fit notes to patients. Information on the Fit Note can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fit-note-guidance-for-employers-and-line-managers/getting-the-most-out-of-the-fit-note-guidance-for-employers-and-line-managers
Currently only doctors can legally certify fit notes, but the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is now changing the legislation to allow a further four professions to do this. These professions are nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and pharmacists.
The Council for Work and Health welcomes this move.
We would also endorse the comment that has been made by DWP that not everybody working within these professions should issue fit notes. We agree that health professionals providing fit notes should be working in a suitable environment and have the necessary skills and training to have work and health conversations with patients. This task needs to be within their professional scope of practice, and we note that new guidance and training has been developed which will help professionals to identify if this task is suitable for them.
The Council will be pleased to offer guidance on appropriate training and other advice for these groups of professionals who may now be in a position to offer advice on fitness for work. The Fit Note represents the first line of advice; professionals represented within the Council’s membership are able to provide more specialised and a breadth of advice to employers on fitness for work.
The Council brings together the bodies which represent the wide range of professions that deliver health, safety and wellbeing services at work, as well as other bodies with a close interest in health and work, which include DWP. The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) are members of the Council, whose membership includes most doctors working in occupational medicine practice. The Council also has representation from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). The Council includes those bodies representing the health professionals who as well as doctors will now be able to sign Fit Notes, including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the Faculty of Occupational Health Nursing (FOHN), the Association of Occupational Health and Wellbeing Professionals (iOH), the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists and the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics (ACPOHE).
We would highlight that there are many other health professionals that make a substantial contribution to health and work, also represented on the Council. These and the other bodies with a close interest in health and work are detailed on the members page of our website at: https://www.councilforworkandhealth.org.uk/about/our-members/