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BMA criticises GMC ‘back to work’ duty

The BMA has warned that GMC plans to hand GPs a duty to encourage their patients to return to work represent the ‘political capture' of Good Medical Practice by the Government.

Pulse revealed in October that the GMC was set to introduce the controversial ‘back to work' clause into Good Medical Practice, in a new draft formulated with input from the Department of Work and Pensions. While GMC Council subsequently amended the wording, the draft guidance still instructs GPs to ‘support patients' in ways which ‘may include encouraging patients… to stay in or return to work'.

But in a strongly worded submission to a GMC consultation, the BMA warned it was ‘concerned about imposing an obligation on doctors to encourage patients back to work': ‘Several respondents saw this as possible political capture of Good Medical Practice. Any efforts by doctors in this regard should have the patient's interests in mind rather than seeking to help the Government's employment strategy.'

The BMA also criticised several of the new responsibilities outlined by the GMC in the guidance as ‘nebulous and probably unenforcable', claiming that duties involving risk reductions were ‘vague, poorly specified and quite possibly unachievable' and arguing requirements that doctors be accessible to patients and colleagues when on duty were ‘unrealistic'.

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘We are reviewing responses to the consultation and plan to publish a revised copy of Good Medical Practice later this year.'

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