A new medical ‘fit note’ to replace the current ‘sick note’ and help more people stay in work rather than drift into long term sickness was unveiled yesterday along with a twelve week consultation on its design.

The new ‘fit note’ will enable people to get the best possible advice about staying in work, and if they can’t work what their employer can do to help them return to work sooner. For example, if the employee has a problem with mobility, suggesting a job where they can work sitting down rather than standing up.
Lord Bill McKenzie
Work and Pensions Minister Lord Bill McKenzie said: “Employers tell us that managing sickness absence can be a challenge. This is compounded by a ‘sick note’ system that makes sickness absence a black and white issue – either you are unfit for work or you are not.

“We recognise how important it is to help people who are sick to stay in work or get back to work quickly – the new fit note will help do just that.”

Developed with the support of healthcare professionals, employer representatives and trade unions, the new ‘fit notes’ will roll-out across Great Britain in the Spring of 2010.

A DWP spokesman said: “Our goal is that under the new system ‘fit notes’ will be computer-generated in GPs surgeries, replacing the current hand written version.”

The introduction of the ‘fit note’ forms part of the Government’s response to Dame Carol Black’s groundbreaking report into the health of Britain’s working age population, published in March 2008.

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