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GP premises neglect revealed

The Government has admitted it is braced for a backlash from GPs over its plans for intense scrutiny of their sickness certification.

Under proposals to overhaul incapacity benefit, the Department for Work and Pensions wants to audit how many sicknotes each GP issues.

It has proposed that the results be included in revalidation. GPs who give out too many sicknotes would fail the process and would have to

undergo retraining.

An official at the department told Pulse: 'When GPs realise the full extent of this we anticipate a backlash, but it's something we need to do.'

GPs said ministers were right to fear a backlash.

Dr Harry Yoxall, Somerset LMC secretary, said GPs would 'not take kindly' to yet more monitoring. He said: 'There's no point just hitting GPs with a bloody great stick.'

Dr Rob Barnett, Liverpool LMC secretary, added: 'The Government is wrong to believe most GPs hand out sick-notes like Smarties.'

What the DWP plan says:

'Currently, the system does not record the issuing of sicknotes, something that contrasts starkly with the situation in respect of prescriptions, which are thoroughly audited.

'We now need to explore and develop ways to improve the information held.

'This will pave the way for us to develop a system to feed back to individual GPs information about their certification practice, which can be used for professional development and revalidation purposes.'

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