This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

A faulty production line

GPs could be asked for more health information on benefits claimants

GPs may be asked to feed back more health information on benefits claimants, under proposals outlined in a Government report.

Dame Carol Black's independent review into 'the impact on employment outcomes of drug or alcohol addiction, and obesity' suggested that the Government trials 'a requirement for each claimant, early in their claim to benefit, to attend a discussion with a healthcare professional on the impact of their health condition on their ability to work'.

The report to the Department for Work and Pensions suggested including benefit claimants who misuse drugs or alcohol, and those suffering from obesity-related conditions such as type-2 diabetes, mental health and musculoskeletal conditions in the trial.

The report said that improving health information in the benefits system would be 'in the best interests of claimants and the Government' and therefore recommended that DWP 'reviews ways in which better health information could be provided to Jobcentre Plus in support of a claim'.

'There are a number of different ways this could be achieved (for example expanding the fit note to contain extra information) but to make a real difference this additional information must flow through to the staff in Jobcentre Plus supporting the claimant throughout their search for employment,' said the report.

Dame Carol's report said that among the 'many failings' the review had uncovered in the current benefits system, the 'first is a failure to identify addiction (and indeed other relevant health conditions)'.

It said: 'The benefits system only records a single health condition, usually originating in the General Practioner’s Fit Note, which is rarely reviewed or updated and seldom includes addiction.'

It said this comes as 'individuals are very unlikely to disclose addictions to Jobcentre Plus due to mistrust and lack of a clear, high-quality offer of support if they did'.



Readers' comments (4)

  • The DWP wants to ask GP's about patients with mental health problems, I really struggle to find a GP or hoipital consultant that has a clue what they are talking about when it comes to mental health.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @6:46 if you do know what you're on about when it comes to mental health can we send all the requests your way? Ta

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Having a job is generally good for people's physical and mental wellbeing. When we are asked to sign sickness forms for people with long term conditions such as long term pain, stress, ME / CFS or alcohol dependence we are given a dilemma of making their recovery and future life worse by "helping" them be signed off with illness and trapping them into a cycle of dependence.
    I think there are too many conflicts of interest to have GPs taking any role in certification of people's ability to work.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • AlanAlmond

    I suspect the motivation here may be to identify people with addiction problems so that benefits are paid only on condition the person engages in some form of recognised treatment plan. I don't really feel comfortable as a GP increasingly being regarded as a sub department of the DWP. There are conflicts of interest here that might not immediately be apparent.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say