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More healthcare professionals given powers to issue fit notes – a sticking plaster or fit for purpose? (UK)

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As of 1 July, the rules on Statements of Fitness for Work (“fit notes”) will change. In addition to doctors, now nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists will also be able to issue them – although that must still be following an “assessment” and fit notes cannot be issued simply on request or “over the counter” (the link to the amended legislation is here ).

To recap, the current fit note regime came into force in April 2010, replacing the old system of statutory sick notes. Whereas the old system was binary – the individual was either able to work or not – the fit note system also allowed for individuals who have been off work for more than seven days to be signed “may be fit for work” (confusingly, given its name, a fit note cannot actually declare that an individual is fit for work). If that “may be” option is selected, the issuer is then required to confirm any adjustments which might help to facilitate that return, e.g. a phased return, amended duties, altered hours, workplace adaptations, resolution of ongoing disputes or conflict, etc. However, those suggestions are made at an in-principle level only, and not […]

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