3 February 2010
From April 6th 2010 GPs will no longer issue sick notes to their patients. Instead, they will issue a ‘statement of fitness for work’ or ‘fit note’ as it will generally be known.
Your GP can issue you with a fit note on the basis of seeing you in person, talking to you on the telephone or consulting a report by another health professional.
The fit note allows your GP to state either that:
‘You are not fit for work’
‘You may be fit for work taking account of the following advice’
The ‘advice’ consists of the doctor ticking boxes saying that you may benefit from one or more of the following, if available and with your employer’s agreement:
- A phased return to work
- Altered hours
- Amended duties
- Workplace adaptations
There is then a small space for the doctor to make comments ‘including functional effects of your condition(s)’.
The fit note can last for a maximum of three months, unless you have already been advised to refrain from work for at least 6 months, in which case it can be marked ‘for an indefinite period’.
Whether GPs will be prepared to make suggestions about what changes to a patient’s working conditions would be appropriate, and whether employers will take any notice of them if they do, remains to be seen.
You can read the new regulations regarding fit notes and see a copy of one here.