Review to consider nurses issuing sick notes

The Department for Work and Pensions has pledged to review whether primary care nurses should be allowed to issue sick notes.

Only registered medical practitioners can sign patients off work using the Med 3 form but nurses have been calling for the role to be added to their remit since 2001.

A new version of the form is being introduced on 6 April that will allow GPs the option to advise a patient that they 'may be fit for work'.

The GP would then be able to suggest ways that the patient could be helped to return to work sooner, for example by adapting the workplace.

A spokesperson for the DWP told Independent Nurse: ‘We have not ruled out allowing other healthcare practitioners to issue statements in the longer term but feel that it is important at this stage to embed the new statement using those who have most experience of and familiarity with the process.

‘As we start to see the result of the evaluation of the new statement we will consider further options.'

Research published by the DWP in 2004 found that 79% of primary care nurse practitioners were advising patients on fitness for work.

Of the nurses questioned in the survey, 83% said it was feasible for them to take on sickness certification.

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