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’.