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The high number of fit notes issues for musculoskeletal (MSK) problems supports the idea that physiotherapists should be allowed to sign patients off work, according to a leading medical body.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) has restated its call for legislative changes to allow physios to issue fit notes in response to new NHS Digital figures showing that MSK problems were the second most common reason for fit notes being issued between December 2014 and March 2017.
Mental health and behavioural conditions accounted for 1.8 million fit notes issued during this time, more than any other cause, but MSK problems were next on the list with 1.1 million notes issued for these reasons. This was equivalent to 18 per cent of the overall total.
Fit notes are designed to allow medical professionals to offer confirmation of an individual's inability to work for health reasons, or to offer a recommendation on work may be resumed if adjustments or adaptations to the job role or workplace can be made.
The CSP believes that allowing physios to provide these notes would be more convenient for patients than having to make repeated appointments with their GPs, which can be particularly problematic for those with long-term conditions. It would also help to reduce the workload faced by doctors' surgeries at present.
Natalie Beswetherick, director of practice and development at the CSP, said: "These statistics give further weight to allowing physiotherapists to sign people off work, and to providing greater numbers of them in GP surgeries.
"Doing that would free up GPs while ensuring patients receive expert advice on their condition at the point of being signed off to help them get back to work as soon as they feel able."
Written by Mathew Horton
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