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Mental health nurses should be able to issue fit notes

Research suggests that mental health nurses might be better equipped to deal with some issues.

Image: © Monkey Business

The Thriving at Work report suggests doctors are not always best equipped to provide advice to people with mental health conditions.

The Thriving At Work report, commissioned by Theresa May, recommends that mental health nurses alongside other multidisciplinary healthcare professionals be allowed to sign ‘fit notes’ for patients as the report suggests they can be better equipt to offer advice.

Currently, ‘fit notes’, commonly known as ‘sick notes’, can only be issued by doctors. The ‘fit note’ outlines the support a patient should be receiving from their employer and when they are expected to be able to return to work.

The Thriving At Work report says;

“There is limited evidence that the current fit note process is effectively encouraging GPs and patients to discuss work and health.

“Currently, only GPs and hospital doctors can sign a fit note, and many think that they are often not best equipped to provide employment advice for people with a mental health condition.

“Many are concerned about the implications of ticking “may be fit for work” when support might not be available to the individual.

“We recommend that the responsibility for completing fit notes is extended to mental health professionals, and that the government considers how to further improve communication between health professionals, employees and employers where appropriate”.

The currently ‘fit note’ system is under review by the government.