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Fit Notes Issued by GP Practices, England. June 2017

This is part of

Experimental statistics
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Clinical Commissioning Groups
Date Range:
01 Apr 2015 to 30 Jun 2017


The Statement of Fitness for Work (the Med3 form or 'fit note') was introduced in April 2010 across England, Wales and Scotland.  It enables doctors to give advice to their patients about the impact of their health condition on their fitness for work and is used to provide medical evidence for employers or to support a claim to health related benefits through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

A fit note is issued after the first seven days of sickness absence (when patients can self-certify) if the doctor assesses that the patient's health affects their fitness for work.  The doctor can decide the patient is 'unfit for work' or 'may be fit for work subject to the following advice...' with accompanying notes on suggested adjustments or adaptations to the job role or workplace.

In 2012, 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 quarterly statistical publication is 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 April 2015 to 30 June 2017.

NHS Digital will publish these data on a quarterly basis in October, January, April and July.

Key Facts


  • 1,385,725 fit notes were issued by included practices (61.2 per cent) from April to June 2017 (Q1 2017-18). This is 77,782 more fit notes than the same quarter in 2016-17. Which equates to 1 fit note per 49 patients aged 18 to 65 on average per month in Q1 2017-18. This is the same ratio as Q1 2016-17.
  • 6.6 per cent of fit notes reported in Q1 2017-18 were classified as 'may be fit for work', this is the same proportion as Q1 2016-17.
  • 35.5 per cent of fit notes were for 5 weeks or longer in Q1 2017-18 compared to 33.6 per cent in Q1 2016-17.
  • Most diagnoses saw an increase in the number of fit notes when compared to the same quarter in the previous year apart from diseases of the respiratory system which saw a 14.5 per cent decrease (35,352 to 30,238).
  • 55.7 per cent of episodes1 comprise 1 fit note in Q1 2017-18 compared to 58.4 per cent in the same period in 2016-17. Whilst 8.0 per cent of episodes comprise 5 or more fit notes in Q1 2017-18 compared to 6.9 per cent in Q1 2016-17.

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