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Ministers have defended Government plans to house employment advisers in GP surgeries to help people on in- capacity benefit back into work.

Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said patients would be 'pestered' when all they wanted was to receive health care.

Work and pensions minister Alan Johnson replied that employment advisers would not get in the way of GP care.

Patients 'will not walk into a surgery to find an employment adviser lurking behind the curtains when they are asked to take their clothes off, or sitting on the desk swinging a stethoscope. They will be placed outside the surgery,' Mr Johnson said.

He added: 'We believe that giving GPs access to employment support in their surgeries will help them deliver this role more effectively.'

The James Wigg practice in north London has been piloting the scheme, which is part of proposals in the public health White Paper.

The Government last week unveiled plans for regular checks on whether GPs issue too many sicknotes.

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