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Nurses in Northern Ireland now able to sign off patient fit notes

Move follows weeks after the law was changed in England, Scotland and Wales on 1 July allowing nurses to sign off patients who are not fit to work

Move follows weeks after the law was changed in England, Scotland and Wales on 1 July allowing nurses to sign off patients who are not fit to work

Nurses in Northern Ireland can now issue fit notes to patients, along with occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists.

The move comes just weeks after the law was changed in England, Scotland and Wales on 1 July to allow nurses to sign off patients who are not fit to work.

The change, which came into force on Tuesday, will enable patients to get advice and fit notes from a nurse, or other qualified healthcare worker without having to separately see a doctor.

Move follows weeks after the law was changed in England, Scotland and Wales on 1 July allowing nurses to sign off patients who are not fit to work

Nurses in Northern Ireland are now able to sign off patient fit notes
Picture: iStock

Nurses in Northern Ireland can now issue fit notes to patients, along with occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists.

The move comes just weeks after the law was changed in England, Scotland and Wales on 1 July to allow nurses to sign off patients who are not fit to work.

The change, which came into force on Tuesday, will enable patients to get advice and fit notes from a nurse, or other qualified healthcare worker without having to separately see a doctor.

Nurses possess the skills and experience to deliver this service, says chief nurse

‘We have introduced these powers to ensure certifying fit notes can be carried out by other healthcare professionals – improving the patient experience and access and helping to relieve pressures on GPs,’ said Northern Ireland’s chief nursing officer Maria McIlgorm.

‘Nurses possess the skills and experience to deliver this service. We are aiming to diversify and simplify systems in order to deliver services more efficiently and this is one more example of how this can be achieved.”

A fit note, also known as a statement for fitness to work, is a medical statement that issues to patients whose health condition affects their ability to work. Previously, only doctors could sign a fit note.

Eligible staff who want to certify fit notes should complete e-learning training

This change will be delivered by authorised nurses in general practice and hospital settings where fit notes are provided.

Training to carry out the service is optional, and eligible staff to who want to certify fit notes should complete the e-learning training programme, which is freely accessible online.

Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann added: ‘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.’


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