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Publication, Part of

Fit notes issued by GP practices, England. December 2014 - March 2017

Official statistics
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Country, Regions, Integrated Care Boards, Sub-Integrated Care Boards
Date Range:
01 Dec 2014 to 31 Mar 2017


The Statement of Fitness for Work (the Med3 form or 'fit note') was introduced in April 2010 across England, Wales and Scotland replacing the previous medical statement which had been unchanged for 40 years. Rather than confirming a patient's inability to work, the fit note allows the GP to use the option of 'may be fit for work' and to provide advice on how work may be resumed, considering what adjustments or adaptations to the job role or workplace would be required.

In 2012 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) funded a project to provide GPs with the ability to produce computer-generated fit notes (eMed3) and this included the capability to collect the aggregated data generated.

Fit notes are issued to patients by doctors following an assessment of their fitness for work. While they can be written by hand, most fit notes provided by a GP are now computer-generated.

This is the first statistical publication produced by NHS Digital in collaboration with The Work and Health Unit, jointly sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health. It presents data on electronic fit notes issued in general practices in England and covers the period from 1 December 2014, when these data became available, to 31 March 2017.

In the future, NHS Digital plan to publish these data on a quarterly basis in October, January, April and July.


England, 2016-17

  • 1 fit note per 48 patients aged 18-65 years, were issued by GPs on average each month.
  • 6.5 per cent of fit notes reported were classified as 'may be fit for work', with 4 out of 5 of these recommending an adaptation in the workplace, working hours or duties.
  • 31.3 per cent of fit notes with a known diagnosis were for mental and behavioural disorders compared to 18.0 per cent for diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue.
  • 58.5 per cent of episodes comprise1 of 1 fit note whilst 6.7 per cent of episodes comprise 5 or more fit notes.
  • 21.5 per cent of mental and behavioural episodes are for more than 12 weeks, compared to 2.8 per cent for diseases of the respiratory system. Whilst the proportion for all episodes was 14.7 per cent.

  1 An episode is the same period of sickness covered by one or more fit notes.


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Last edited: 11 April 2018 4:10 pm