Doctors to tell long term jobless to find work

Doctors will be encouraged to tell patients with long term illnesses to find a job after the Government intervened in new guidance for GPs.Doctors to tell long term jobless to find workThe Department for Work and Pensions responded to a General Medical Council consultation to suggest that doctors should regard a patient returning to work as an “essential” indicator of successful clinical treatment.

The request has been included in new guidance for GPs, issued for consultation yesterday, despite claims that doctors are being asked to “police unemployment”.

It has led to suggestions that the GMC was pressured into including the advice to help reduce the number of people claiming sickness benefit. The department also suggested that doctors should ask each patient their “work status” when they attended an appointment, but this was rejected.

Ministers have accused the previous Labour government of keeping down the unemployment figures by pushing people on to incapacity benefit and are determined to cut the benefits bill.

A new draft of the GMC’s Good Medical Practice guidance states that doctors “must support patients in caring for themselves to empower them to improve and maintain their health”.

It continues: “This may include encouraging patients, including those with long-term conditions, to stay in or return to employment or other purposeful activity.”

The inclusion of the provision appears to dovetail with government plans to reduce the number of people on incapacity benefits by getting them back into work. In July, government figures indicated that more than nine out of 10 people who applied for the employment and support allowance benefit had been deemed fit to work.

Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the GMC, said the phrase was inserted because there was a lot of evidence that “productive activity can be life-enhancing”. “We don’t want to suggest doctors become policemen of the state,” he said. “It has to be where it is in the patient’s best interest that encouragement and support is given.”

Nonetheless, the GMC has already watered down the wording of the draft due to concerns.

The proposal also appears to have the backing of the British Medical Association. Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of its GP committee, said: “There is a clear link between health and gainful employment, whether that’s paid or voluntary. Bearing in mind what an individual is capable of, a doctor should encourage a patient to increase their activity, if that is appropriate.”

According to Mr Dickson, that new duty is a result of failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust where hundreds of mainly elderly people are thought to have died due to inadequate care.

He said: “This makes clear that a doctor’s responsibilities do not begin and end with providing clinical treatment. They have a vital role to play to improve standards of basic care. When this goes wrong, as it did at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and elsewhere, patients can face serious harm.”

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November 9, 2011 · Home Based Jobs · Comments Closed
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