Are fit notes fit for purpose?

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occupational health
In 2010 the fit note system was launched with the aim of helping people back to work earlier. More than five years later, research has shown that we have not seen any reduction in absence levels and that there are real concerns regarding the quality of GP advice provided. In fact, many employers feel that GP advice has deteriorated.

Fit notes provide an invaluable opportunity for GP’s and employers to work more closely together for the benefit of their patient/employee, to aid their recovery and help them back to work. For the majority of people, the ability to work, even for people who are not fully fit, is beneficial for their physical and mental wellbeing.

However, more than 75% of GPs have not received specific training on health at work, so there is pressure on the government to put more resources into training on health and work issues. It is also important that employers, GP’s and other health professionals work more closely together to bring about a much needed improvement. In the meantime, it is essential that clear absence management policies are adopted and communication with employees with long term and recurring health issues is as open, supportive and constructive as possible.

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