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How you can get a sick note changes TODAY: Pharmacists and nurses at GP clinics and hospitals are now allowed to sign Brits off work ill
- The law changed overnight so patients no longer need to see their family doctor
- Fit notes provide evidence to employers about a person’s absence
- The change applies across England, Scotland and Wales and is being mirrored in Northern Ireland
Nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists can now certify sick notes under reforms that could free up millions of GP appointments.
The law changed overnight, so patients no longer need to see their family doctor to be signed off work.
Fit notes provide evidence to employers about a person’s absence and any relevant advice on how to support their employees to remain in or return to work.
Today’s change applies across England, Scotland and Wales and is being mirrored in Northern Ireland.
Nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists can now certify fit notes, as well as doctors. The Government said the move will cut the pressure on NHS doctors, particularly GPs
High street pharmacies won’t be able to issue fit notes.
The move only applies to other healthcare professionals working in GP surgeries and hospitals.
Chloe Smith, minister for disabled people, said: ‘Having a health condition doesn’t have to take you out of a job.
When do I need a fit note?
7 days off sick or less
If you’re off work sick for 7 days or less, your employer should not ask for medical evidence that you’ve been ill. Instead they can ask you to confirm that you’ve been ill.
You can do this by filling in a form yourself when you return to work. This is called self-certification.
More than 7 days off sick
If you’re off work sick for more than 7 days, your employer will usually ask for a fit note (or Statement of Fitness for Work) from a GP or hospital doctor. Fit notes are some
‘This change will make it easier for people and employers to get the advice they need so people can stay in work, whilst also reducing bureaucracy and freeing up doctors’ time.
‘Too often we see people being faced with unnecessary challenges to get a fit note.
‘More professionals being able to offer this vital service will speed up the process and support people to return to or remain in work.’
The change comes amid record dissatisfaction with GPs, with patients frustrated over the struggle to get appointments to see doctors.
Last year GPs issued ten million ‘fit notes’, colloquially known as a doctor’s note.
Employees must provide a note — which are issued for free — if they’ve been off ill for a week.
They have been pushing the Government to change the rules so other healthcare professionals can issue them.
Doctors say the administrative burden adds to their workload, contributes to stress and stops them helping those in need.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘Slashing unnecessary bureaucracy is key to ensuring more patients can see their GP quickly and get the care they need as we bust the Covid backlogs.
‘That’s why we have introduced these powers to ensure certifying fit notes can be carried out by other healthcare professionals – helping to relieve pressures on GPs so they can focus on patients and deliver an extra 50 million appointments a year by 2024.’
Wendy Preston, the Royal College of Nursing’s head of nursing practice, said: ‘This is a positive step.
‘Nursing staff are often the first people patients see, particularly in primary care, and especially for those living with a long-term condition who may need time off to manage their condition at times.
‘This will allow them to better serve the needs of their patients and reduce the need for further unnecessary appointments with other healthcare professionals.
‘Nurses have the skills and knowledge to make challenging decisions and must not feel pressured to sign a fit note, much the same as our medical colleagues.’
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