With pharmacists, nurses, occupational therapists and physios now able to sign off fit notes under new legislation, Health Education England (HEE) has promised to offer training to support the policy change.

HEE has now confirmed that training will be made available to these professions through HEE elearning for healthcare (HEE), in partnership with the DWP.
HEE also said it has ‘developed guidance to support all healthcare professionals issuing fit notes to feel confident and able to do so appropriately.’ Guidance documents for the change in policy will be made through the gov.uk website, it said.
The move ‘will make it quicker and simpler for patients needing to certify time off work for illness or injury, as well as helping to reduce the burden on doctors who currently issue fit notes,’ said HEE.

In guidance published on 1 July, the RPS advises pharmacists on dealing with fit notes - including when to issue one, where to obtain them, and tips to support consultation and assessment to complete and issue fit notes safely.

It is the biggest change to the rules around fit notes since they were introduced in 2010, and part of a planned overhaul of reforms that has included scrapping ink only signatures and providing more ‘interactive’ advice on workplace adaptations and support.

The DWP told The Pharmacist last month that community pharmacists will not be among those able to issue fit notes - as fit notes are not part of the commissioned services provided in community pharmacies - with the change instead aimed at pharmacists working in general practice and hospitals.

Mark Radford, deputy CEO and chief nurse at HEE, said: ‘We welcome this change in the law and also the opportunity to develop services more flexibly and build on the skills of expert nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

‘HEE has been leading with other nations to allow these changes to be made across the United Kingdom and make the training easily accessible to staff who wish to develop these new skills.’
Christian Brailsford, regional head of nursing for the south west at HEE, added: ‘Enabling nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists to certify fit notes offers benefits for patients and the healthcare system and better recognises innovations in using a multi-disciplinary workforce to support patients.
‘These healthcare professionals can engage more directly with patients on matters of work and health without having to re-route requests to certify fit notes through doctors.’