New resource aims to help GPs completing fit notes

A new resource has been developed to help GPs completing fit notes to suggest possible work modifications that could help patients get back to work.

The online ‘Talking Work’ tool, which has been created by The Council for Work and Health, contains a checklist prompt to help GPs talk to patients about work. This is supported by more detailed explanations, case studies and examples of commonly used fit note options, which have been developed by an experienced GP.

The resource also provides a detailed list of sources of advice from a range of expert professional organisations.

The Council for Work and Health

The Council for Work and Health provides professional leadership and expertise on all strategic work and health issues by engaging and influencing stakeholders; recognising, supporting and sharing good practice; and connecting those in need with those who deliver.

This article is funded by The Council for Work and Health for GP Connect

The Council for Work and Health, which represents professional organisations with an interest in promoting health and work, said that identifying possible work modifications on fit notes was a key factor in enabling employers to understand the often simple work changes that might help people get back to work.

It added that it hoped the tool would ‘enable positive discussions during consultations on work modification needs and encourage "may be fit subject to…" options to be used on the fit note’.

Improving employment outcomes

Talking Work was developed in consultation with a broad range of professionals, including practising GPs and the RCGP, which is a member of the council.

The council was commissioned to develop the tool by the cross-government Work and Health Unit, which aims to improve the health and employment outcomes for disabled people and those with health conditions.

The unit’s 2017 publication Improving lives: the future of work, health and disability set out plans for how the government intended to do this, and one of the paper’s commitments was to develop guidance on work modification for common clinical conditions that lead to absence from work.

Dr Rob Hampton, a portfolio GP in Leicester with an interest in occupational medicine, said: ‘I believe that Talking Work is an important step towards supporting GPs to consider work as an outcome of their care.

'The themes and practical tips it introduces should build confidence in discussing workplace modifications with patients and go some way to meeting the increasing calls from working age people with long-term conditions to remove their barriers to a fulfilling life that includes employment.’

Dr Steven Boorman, chair of The Council for Work and Health and an occupational physician who started his career as a GP, said: ‘Enabling good work for a patient makes a huge difference to successful recovery and future health. By using recommendations in this resource doctors can help patients to have constructive discussions with their employers to facilitate a range of work adjustments and make employment possible. Please take the time to visit the link and use the advice with your patients.’

  • GPs can access the Talking Health tool here.

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