Getting the best from the GP fit note 

In 2010, sickness certificates were replaced with the GP fit note, designed to encourage doctors to help patients stay at work, or get back to work as soon as possible. The fit note enables GPs to recommend changes to working hours or phased returns, tailoring the return to work to each patient’s needs.

A study recently completed by the Rehabilitation Research Group explored how fit notes are used and whether the system is an efficient replacement for the old sickness certificates. Funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the Nottingham team recruited GPs, patients and employers, and collected 932 anonymised copies of current fit notes. 

Making the system work better for everyone

Participants completed questionnaires about the outcome and usefulness of their fit notes and were interviewed about their experiences. The team analysed this information and presented it to a panel of experts in a consensus study, producing a list of judgements and recommendations. 

Full results have been published by IOSH. These show that fit notes are not yet being used to their full potential by doctors, patients or employers. Recommendations from the study include what should be featured in an ideal fit note, the need for training for employers and GPs, and best practice in the completion, timing, sharing and application of fit notes.


Rehabilitation Research Group

The University of Nottingham
School of Health Sciences
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2HA

telephone: +44 (0)115 823 0843