Skip to main content

Fit Notes Issued by GP Practices, England - December 2017

This is part of

Experimental statistics
Publication date:
Geographic coverage:
Geographical granularity:
Clinical Commissioning Groups
Date range:
01 Apr 2015 to 31 Dec 2017


Published: 26 April 2018 - 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 31 December 2017.

On 1 April 2018 there were a number of changes to NHS geographies details of which can be found under Related Links below.

All GP practices are mapped using current NHS geographies and recent changes may have resulted in a small number of practices not being mapped historically. These are shown as 'Not allocated' but are included in the England total.

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

Key facts


• 1,447,780 fit notes were issued by included practices (62.6 per cent) from October to December 2017 (Q3 2017-18). This is 31,266 more fit notes than the same quarter in 2016-17. This equates to 1 fit note per 47 patients aged 18 to 65 on average per month in Q3 2017-18, compared to 1 fit note per 48 patients in Q3 2016-17.

• 6.3 per cent of fit notes reported in Q3 2017-18 were classified as ‘may be fit for work’, compared to 6.2 per cent in Q3 2016-17.

• 33.7 per cent of fit notes were for 5 weeks or longer in Q3 2017-18 compared to 33.8 per cent in Q3 2016-17.

• Fit notes for diseases of the respiratory system rose by 0.3 per cent from November to December in 2016 and by 12.7 per cent for the same period in 2017. The number of fit notes for all other diagnoses fell in December when compared to October and November for both 2016 and 2017.

• 57.1 per cent of episodes* comprise 1 fit note in Q3 2017-18 compared to 59.4 per cent in the same period in 2016-17. Whilst 7.4 per cent of episodes comprise 5 or more fit notes in Q3 2017-18 compared to 6.1 per cent in Q3 2016-17.

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


Related links

Last edited: 26 April 2018 8:16 am