The fit note will put the onus on employers to help get their staff back to work, but needs to be better publicised, GPs have said.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GPs committee, said it wanted to see a publicity campaign around the new note aimed at employers and patients.
“GPs also need to be careful they are not drawn into making comments they are not qualified to make, because, unlike occupational health doctors, they are not often in a position to know the details of the patient’s working conditions, neither do they have specialist knowledge of workplace hazards,” he stressed.
Health insurance firm Mercer advised companies to review their absence management, risk assessment and occupational health policies following the introduction of the note.
“We are quietly concerned that, due to a lack of familiarity with occupational health, some GPs may sign off an employee as unfit for work rather than advising on a gradual return,” added Sarah Brown, head of health management at Mercer.