Fit Notes under scrutiny: are they truly effective?

Posted on May 16th, 2024

Background of fit notes

In 2010, the fit note replaced the ‘sick note’. The changes gave a GP the option to indicate that an individual ‘may be fit for work subject to the following advice’, for instance recommending reasonable adjustments, such as a phased return to work and workplace adjustments. Therefore, GPs were expected to advise individuals on returning to work, as well as providing employers with the necessary information to help support those individuals to return to work, rather than staying off sick.


Research shows though, that in the period between October 2022 and September 2023, only 6.2% of fit notes were issued as ‘may be fit for work subject to the following advice’. These figures are consistent with data collected since 2016. This equates to over 10 million fit notes each year being issued without any advice, a staggeringly high number.

The future of fit notes

Given the apparent failure of the changes made in 2010, the government announced at the autumn statement, that it would be looking at reforming the fit note process to support people with long-term health conditions to access work and health support in a timely fashion.

Invitation to participate – have your say

Last month, as part of the reform process, the government issued a call for evidence to assess the impact of the current fit note process.

The government states that it would welcome all views, in particular from:

  • Employers.
  • Healthcare professionals.
  • Patients, carers and those who access fit notes.
  • Representatives of local systems or local system partners (for example, local authorities, integrated care boards and voluntary community social enterprises).
  • Interested academics and stakeholder organisations.

The deadline for submitting evidence is 8 July 2024. Given staff sickness rates are an important issue in schools, the views of headteachers and school business managers would provide useful information as part of the evidence gathering.

Further information can be found here and the online form can be found here.

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