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Confusion over Med 3 forms

It has recently become apparent within our practice that we had misunderstood how Med 3s work and we are wondering if we are alone in this misunderstanding. I do not think we are. We now know that the purpose of the ‘may be fit for work’ option is only to help employers to find appropriate work for their employees. 

Ticking this option for an unemployed patient causes increased difficulty for them when they try to find work. The reason is that the DWP interprets ‘fit for some work’ as ‘not fit for work’. Its guidance states that the ‘you may be fit for work taking account of the following advice’ option on the Med 3 has been introduced to assist employers to support employees back into the working environment. For Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a Med 3 issued with the option ticked should be accepted in the same way as one that indicates
a claimant is not fit for work.

Our practice has a high number of unemployed patients who would often like to attempt employment but have medical problems that make some forms of work difficult or impossible. We were under the impression that we were helping these patients by ticking the ‘may be fit’ option and explaining the problem in detail in the box provided. 

The above indicates that we should have been ticking the ‘fit for work’ box, despite the fact that the other ‘may be fit for work’ box would seem more appropriate.

Is this a widespread misunderstanding in primary care?

Dr Jim Newmark, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Editor’s note: Dr Newmark and other GPs might find our CPD module ‘Getting on top of fit notes’ helpful