An employee has told me that I can accept a fit note from their pharmacist – is this right?

In order to reduce pressure on doctors, particularly GPs, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have proposed that nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists should be able to certify and issue fit notes.

For anyone who has been off work with illness for more than seven days, a fit note provides evidence to their employer about the absence and any relevant advice on how to support the employee to remain in or return to work.

The new rules will come into force from 1 July 2022, lifting the requirement that only doctors can issue the notes.

The aim will be to support and empower better conversations about work and health between employers and staff by making it easier to get this advice certified by the most relevant healthcare professional.

This change follows legislation changes in April 2022 which removed the need for fit notes to be signed in ink. This change makes it possible for eligible healthcare professionals to certify fit notes digitally and also for patients to receive their fit note via digital channels (where GP IT systems support this).

BMA England GP committee deputy chair, Dr Kieran Sharrock, said: “The BMA has been clear for many years that it may not always be necessary or appropriate for a GP to issue a fit note, especially when a patient has seen a different member of the practice team for their condition, such as a nurse or physiotherapist.”

If you would like a copy of our letter to inform your staff of these changes, then please download our letter here