A new legislation has been introduced to allow authorised pharmacists along with other healthcare professionals in Northern Ireland to certify ‘fit notes’, health minister Robin Swann has announced.
Pharmacists and some other healthcare professionals in England, Scotland and Wales are already allowed to sign ‘fit notes’.
Swann announced that ‘fit notes’ were also set to go fully digital in the future, meaning they would no longer need to be signed in ink.
He said: “I am delighted to introduce this legislation in Northern Ireland. This change will make it easier for people and employers to get the advice they need so people can stay in work and will help free up doctors’ time.
“Too often we see people being faced with unnecessary challenges to get a fit note. More professionals being able to offer this vital service will speed up the process and support people to return to or remain in work.”
The new change will be delivered by authorised pharmacists, nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists in general practice and hospital settings where fit notes are currently provided.
Cathy Harrison, Northern Ireland’s chief pharmaceutical officer, said: “I welcome the change announced today which will further support multi-professional working in our general practices and hospital settings, for the benefit of patients. Many patients recovering from illness rely on medication and pharmacists can provide the advice and expertise needed to support recovery and return to work.”
Guidance and training are available to support the new rules about who can certify fit notes. Healthcare professionals eligible to certify fit notes are urged to complete the e-learning training programme which is freely accessible on the e-learning for healthcare website.