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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Global sum errors could cost practices £20,000

GPC negotiators have written to the Government to demand an end to GPs' role in sickness certification and incapacity benefit.

In a letter to David Blunkett, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the GPC argued the work was outside normal GP responsibilities and was damaging doctor-patient relations.

The move is in response to a Government Green Paper, due this summer, which will propose that incapacity benefit be scrapped and replaced with 'Pathways to Work'.

GPs have been angered by the plans, which also call for employment advisers to be based at practices and for GPs to play a greater role in getting people back to work.

Dr Peter Holden, GPC negotiator, said the Government 'had not had the guts' to tell people that it was their disability that qualified them for a benefit, not their GPs' diagnosis of one.

He said: 'GPs should only supply the facts, because otherwise we get involved in the adjudication process.'

'There is a reflex action of referral to the GMC when a sicknote is refused.'

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