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Nurses win right to sign fit notes and reduce red tape for patients and staff

Legal mandate allows nurses and other professional groups to certify fitness to work in bid to free-up GP time and improve patient experience
Nurse in GP setting talks to patient

Legal mandate allows nurses and other professional groups to certify fitness to work in bid to free-up GP time and improve patient experience

Nurses will have the power to issue fit notes for people not well enough to work from 1 July.

The hope is the new legislation will make the process quicker and simpler for patients and ease pressure on GPs. Currently only doctors can issue fit notes, but the extended mandate – which will apply in every part of the UK – will cover nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists too.

Nurses can

Legal mandate allows nurses and other professional groups to certify fitness to work in bid to free-up GP time and improve patient experience

Nurse in GP setting talks to patient
Picture: iStock

Nurses will have the power to issue fit notes for people not well enough to work from 1 July.

The hope is the new legislation will make the process quicker and simpler for patients and ease pressure on GPs. Currently only doctors can issue fit notes, but the extended mandate – which will apply in every part of the UK – will cover nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists too.

Nurses can now respond better to patient need and improve efficiency

The RCN said the change was a positive step and the college had been instrumental in bringing it about.

‘Nursing staff are often the first people patients see, particularly in primary care, and especially those living with a long-term condition who may need time off to manage their condition at times,’ RCN head of nursing practice Wendy Preston said.

‘This will allow them to serve the needs of their patients and reduce unnecessary appointments with other healthcare professionals.’

Recognition of role nurses and other healthcare professionals play

The move follows changes made in April that allow fit notes to be certified and issued digitally.

Minister for disabled people, health and work in England Chloe Smith said: ‘These latest fit note changes recognise the valuable role other professions play in helping manage people’s health, and I hope this will help reduce unnecessary bureaucracy for doctors and general practice more widely.’


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