Advice line: AHP fitnote for patients

CSP director Natalie Beswetherick has good news on using the AHP fit note when patients are too ill to work.

The use of a ‘fit note’ issued by an allied health professional rather than a doctor has been given a boost after a recent review led by a government body, marking a way forward for physios, particularly in musculo-skeletal services, to sign AHP ‘fit notes’. 
The Joint Work and Health Unit has received legal clarification of the regulations that the AHP ‘fit note’ could be used by practitioners other than doctors. 
Regulation 2(1) of the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Medical Evidence Regulations states that medical evidence provided for the purposes of SSP should be in the form of a medical fit note or ‘by such other means as may be sufficient in the circumstances of the case’.
This means physiotherapists can use the AHP Fitness for Work Report for statutory sick pay, provided the employer and employee agree it is sufficient in the circumstances. 
Some occupational health and vocational rehabilitation services have been using the AHP report since it was introduced in 2013, but the uptake has been comparably low. So this recent clarification is welcome.
Physiotherapists who assess and manage people of working age with conditions that prevent the person being able to work, or requiring some workplace adjustments, should use the Fitness for Work Report. Physiotherapists working in musculoskeletal-skeletal services are ideally placed to use these reports. 
However, under Section 14 of the Social Security Act, the AHP Fitness for Work Report cannot be used as a form of evidence for any other welfare or benefits. A medical fit note would still be required.

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Author : Natalie Beswetherick CSP’s director of practice development

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