The government has launched a new 'desk aid' for GPs to help them decide whether a patient is fit for work.
It contains the following guidelines:
• the nature of the patients medical condition and how long the condition is expected to last
• the functional limitations which result from the patients condition, particularly in relation to the type of tasks they actually perform at work
• any reasonable adjustments which might enable the patient to continue working - in relation to the workplace it is worth noting that under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments for an employee with a long term disability
• any appropriate clinical guidelines - for example the Royal College of General Practitioners has produced clinical guidelines on the management of acute low back pain
• clinical management of the condition which is in the patients best interest regarding work fitness
"you should always bear in mind that a patient may not be well served in the longer term by medical advice to refrain from work, if more appropriate clinical management would allow them to stay in work or return to work."
The guide is available here.