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Meningitis:GP sued for £330k

GPs who sign too many patients off sick could be deemed unfit to practise under proposals from Tony Blair.

A report by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit calls for regular checks on the 'performance' of GPs in issuing sickness certificates.

Those who don't adopt 'best practice' on sicknotes would be offered retraining and could have their revalidation withheld.

The plans are aimed at getting more people on disability benefits and long-term sick leave back to work.

But GPs condemned the proposals and told the Government to stop interfering in the doctor-patient relationship.

They said they would not be prepared to act as sicknote 'police'.

Dr Mayur Lakhani, RCGP chair, said such a system was a potential threat to patient confidentiality.

He said: 'The Government must understand GPs' first priority is to their patients.'

Dr John Canning, secretary of Cleveland LMC and a

GP in Middlesbrough, said GPs found conflicts over when patients with chronic illnesses should return to work 'very difficult' and the number of certificates issued varied enormously.

He said: 'Putting us as part of the policing service is not appropriate.'

The report ­ Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People ­ stated that sickness certification would be recorded and monitored in a similar way to prescribing patterns.

Information would be fed back to GPs, allowing them

to compare their practice against evidence-based guidelines.

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