Has the fit note reduced general practice sickness certification rates?

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

Background

In 2010, the fit note replaced the sick note to help focus on what people are capable of doing, rather than signing patients ‘off sick’.

Aims

To compare proportions of work-related ill-health issued with sickness certification pre- and post-fit note introduction and assess sickness absence trends.

Methods

General practitioners (GPs) report data on work-related ill-health and sickness absence via The Health and Occupation Research network in General Practice. The proportion of cases issued with sickness certification 4 years before and 3 years after the fit note introduction were compared. Changes in certification incidence rate ratios were measured over time.

Results

Participating GPs reported 5517 cases of work-related ill-health. Pre-fit note introduction 50% of cases were certified sick. There was no change in the proportion of cases certified sick in the first year post-fit note, despite 13% of cases classified as ‘maybe fit’. However, in the second year, the proportion of cases certified sick had reduced significantly (41%) and a larger proportion (19%) was advised on workplace adjustments. In the third year post-introduction, there was a slight rise in the proportion of cases certified sick; therefore, although there was a fall of 2% per annum in certification rates, this was not significant.

Conclusions

In the first year post-fit note introduction, modifications to work were recommended for people who would previously have been declared fit. Trends analyses showed a slight decrease in the certification rate, possibly indicating GPs will become more practised in advising on workplace adjustments.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles