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Patient allocations plea

GPs are set to get quality points for referring patients to an employment adviser.

A Department for Work and Pensions submission to the quality framework review calls for points for GPs who help patients, particularly those with chronic conditions or on long-term incapacity benefit, return to a job.

Margaret Hodge, minister for welfare reform, told MPs last week that GPs had 'a significant influence in helping people with health conditions or disabilities remain in work, or regain fitness for work'.

Her department's submission said referring patients with mental health problems, whose jobs might be otherwise at risk, to employment advisers was particularly important.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC deputy chair, said GPs were not trained to do occupational assessments.

'Our patients ask us "Am I fit for work?" and with certain illnesses you should not do certain jobs, so GPs without doubt do have a role to play. Whether that should be formalised I don't know.'

Dr Rob Hughes, a GP in south-east London, said the move could open a can of worms.

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