The UK Independence Party wants to make GPs write ‘fit notes’ for patients who are claiming sickness benefit as soon as they believe the patient is well enough to return to work and send these onto the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The party’s election manifesto, published today, said both GPs and specialist doctors would be ‘required’ to issue fit notes and send them on. UKIP also wants GPs to take the responsibility for disability assessments away from external contractors, such as ATOS, and give it back to GPs or other ‘specialist consultants’.
The manifesto said the party will ‘require GPs/specialists to notify the Department for Work and Pensions when they believe a patient is well enough to return to work by issuing a fit note’.
It added: ‘We will end unfair ATOS-style work capability assessments and return assessments to GPs or appropriate specialist consultants, who have full access to patients’ medical records and are likely to know the patient. We believe this makes them the best person to undertake assessments and we will ensure they are adequately funded and resourced to take on this task.’
UKIP further said it would start ‘pilot programmes in English hospitals to put GPs on duty in A&E departments seven days a week’, with 1,000 of the 8,000 extra GPs it has pledged to create to be working in A&E departments if successful.
The document said: ‘If these pilots succeed in easing the burden on A&E staff by freeing them up to treat seriously ill patients more successfully we will roll the programme out across the country, deploying approximately 1,000 of the 8,000 additional GPs we are committed to funding.’
To relieve the GP recruitment crisis, UKIP would waive university tuition fees for new medical students who work in Britain for five years after qualifying, and will pay for retraining courses for GPs who want to return to practice after a break.
UKIP’s manifesto also reiterated previously announced plans scrap the CQC and replace it with boards of health and social care professionals elected locally by their peers.