GPs can phone to discuss how a patient could be helped to return to work.
NHS Direct triage staff will take calls on the 0800 022 4233 hotline. But a spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said GP callers would be swiftly transferred to specialist advisers.
‘As soon as they identify themselves as a GP and the nature of the call, they will be put through to an occupational health professional,’ he said.
The intention was for GPs to be able to call the hotline during consultations for advice, he said.
The DWP has also set up a website, backed by the RCGP, offering advice on fit notes at www.healthyworkinguk.co.uk.
Hotlines also exist in Wales (0800 107 0900) and Scotland (0800 019 2211) .