The previous UK Government had proposed reforms to the Fit Note process which left many concerned.

The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) have submitted a response to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) call for evidence on Fit Note Reform.

The ALLIANCE rejects the premise behind the proposed changes to fit notes, which would potentially see the responsibility for issuing them removed from General Practitioners (GPs) and allocated to an as-yet unspecified alternative. We consider these proposals to be overly and unduly focused on the previous UK government’s agenda relating to work, rather than on genuine concern for improving people’s health and wellbeing.

Whilst we would certainly welcome genuine measures to support disabled people and people living with long term conditions into work, we do not believe these proposals would help achieve that aim. Instead, we are concerned they would force people to return to work before it is appropriate for them to do so, potentially worsening their health in the long term. Rather than addressing the root causes of ill-health, including poverty and the inability to access adequate healthcare, this appears to be a misguided attempt to treat the resulting symptoms.

We also share many of the concerns expressed by our members that removing responsibility for issuing fit notes from GPs would mean putting decisions around fitness to work in the hands of people who lack the necessary medical knowledge. In addition, although health is devolved and these proposals would not automatically apply in Scotland, we consider there to be a serious risk of knock-on effects due to the complex interactions between devolved and reserved policy areas.

The ALLIANCE therefore strongly recommends that these proposals do not go ahead, and we encourage the newly elected UK Government to take a supportive and rights-based approach to supporting people to manage their health and work.

You can read the full response via the resource links below.

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