The government has announced that more allied health professionals, including occupational therapists, will now have the authority to sign fit notes for patients.

The new legislation will come into effect from 1 July 2022 across England, Wales and Scotland, and is designed to relieve the pressure on doctors and GPs.

Occupational therapists, nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists will now be able to legally certify a fit note for a patient in a general practice or hospital setting, authorising that the patient is fit for a return to work.

Fit notes, which were brought into use in 2010, provide evidence to your employer about your absence and any relevant advice on how to support you to remain in or return to work. Previously these notes could only be signed by a doctor, by enabling more allied health professionals to assess and authorise a fit note, this will not only ease the pressure on doctors and GPs, but it will open up more lines of communication for patients to discuss health and wellbeing concerns with the relevant health professional to them.

Director of Practice and Innovation, at The Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT), Karin Orman, said:

“By joining forces with DWP and being bold and progressive, we are happy to have helped opened this new opportunity for occupational therapists.

“Workers and employers are crying out for more help to support people with health problems to stay in work where they are able to do so. These new changes mean occupational therapists are directly able to provide that advice.”

In April this year changes were made that allowed fit notes to be issued digitally, making the process far more efficient for all involved. This further change will further increase efficiency for employees, employers, doctors and GPs.

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