In July 2021, the Government outlined plans to deliver fit note improvements including:
- removing the requirement to sign fit notes in ink (from April 2022) and allowing a wider range of eligible professionals to sign fit notes (planned for summer 2022).
- embedding electronic fit notes in hospital systems are planned from spring 2022 and encouraging hospital doctors to issue fit notes to patients in their care will also further reduce the burden on GPs.
We are expecting further detail of these changes from the DWP over the coming weeks to enable awareness of and preparation for them and will update members accordingly.
For SystmOne Practices, please see the following update published today.
On 6 April 2022 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is amending the relevant legislation to remove the requirement for doctors to sign fit notes in ink. Instead your IT system will automatically populate two new fields of the Med 3 form with the issuers name and profession to authorise the form, replacing the need to print and sign it in ink.
This change will enable doctors to issue fit notes through secure digital channels if requested by a patient and if local systems support digital despatch. The facility to provide patients with a printed version if they prefer is retained.
A new 2022 version of the fit note form is being introduced which updates the guidance notes for the patient and replaces the current signature box with the printed name and profession of the issuer to authorise the form.
As now, only doctors can legally assess the impact of a patients health condition on their fitness for work and issue a fit note. DWP is exploring extending this to other health care professions via further legislative change, hence the use of issuer on the form to avoid the need to change it again should certification be widened in the future.
07/04/2022 - This change has now been implemented across the GP module.