The UK government has introduced new legislation to allow a wider range of healthcare professionals to certify fit notes.
From 1 July, registered nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists will also be able to legally certify fit notes – something that previously only doctors could do. A fit note is a form that provides evidence to a patient’s employer about their absence and any relevant advice on how to support them to remain in or return to work.
This legislation change applies across England, Scotland, and Wales, with similar legislation coming into effect in Northern Ireland. The legislation is permissive so doesn’t mean that every registrant in these professions will automatically be required to issue fit notes. New training and guidance, commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care and developed by Health Education England, will help employers and professionals to identify who may be suitable for this task.
Professionals conducting fit note certification should ensure that at all times they are working within their scope of practice, in line with their professional responsibility. Before increasing their scope of practice, registrants should ensure any gaps in their knowledge, skills and experience are addressed with additional training or support as may be appropriate.