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Fit notes are an unsuitable service to be provided ‘over the counter’, says DHSC

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The Department of Health and Social Care has clarified that community pharmacists will not be among those allowed to issue sick notes, calling the service unsuitable to be provided over the counter.

In response to a question from Pharmacy Business, a spokesperson for the department said that the policy change was “aimed at pharmacists working within general practices or hospital settings”, adding: “The intention is that ‘where’ the fit note is issued will remain the same but ‘who’ issues it will change.

The DHSC went on to explain that fit notes, known technically as ‘Med3’, were “not part of the NHS commissioned services” and therefore private providers, such as high street pharmacies, were unable to provide it under government provision.

It added that since “fit notes should only be issued following a full assessment of a patient’s fitness for work”, it “would be an unsuitable service to be provided ‘over the counter’.

On Thursday (June 9), the government announced that under new reforms to free up millions of GP appointments, any registered practicing doctor, nurse, occupational therapist, pharmacist or physiotherapist could legally issue a fit note in England, Wales and Scotland from July 1 2022.

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