Have your say: new medical ‘fit note’ to replace current ‘sick note’

By: Aengus Collins

Date: 25 June 2009

Businesses have the opportunity to shape the new medical ‘fit note’ that is due to replace the existing ‘sick note’ next spring.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is seeking the views of employers on its proposal to replace the existing medical statements (forms Med 3, Med 4 and Med 5). These forms have remained largely unchanged since the NHS was founded, despite the fact that work has generally become safer and less physically demanding, employers are more flexible about taking measures to encourage employees to return to work, and healthcare professionals recognise the positive health benefits of being in work, even for those who have to limit their activities for physical or mental health reasons.

The proposed changes include:

  • adding a new option on the medical statement to allow a doctor to indicate where someone ‘May be fit for some work now’, as an alternative to whether a patient is fit or not fit for work;
  • rationalising the current set of medical statements, by removing forms Med 4 and Med 5, to simplify the process for GPs and employers; and
  • permitting GPs to issue statements printed by their practice’s computer systems as opposed to handwriting them on a statement pad.

The new ‘fit notes’ are due to be rolled out across Britain in spring 2010. Businesses have until 19 August to respond to the consultation.

  • Download the consultation document ‘Reforming the Medical Statement’ from the DWP website

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