Exclusive The Department of Work and Pensions urged the GMC to consider return to work as ‘an important indicator of successful clinical treatment' when reviewing its Good Medical Practice guidance, a document obtained by Pulse reveals.
Last week, we revealed a revised draft of Good medical Practice included a new duty for doctors ‘to encourage patients with long-term conditions to stay in, or return to employment'.
The move prompted concerns that the GMC had been ‘pressurised' by the Government to enlist GPs in the coalition's benefit crackdown, with the regulator admitting the DWP had fed into the draft document.
The DWP has now released its response to the GMC's initial consultation on the new Good Medical Practice guidance. It recommends GPs should take account of a patient's ‘work status' when assessing them and that the medical profession's core ethical guidance should better recognise the ‘principal that work is an important determinant of health'.
The DWP submission states: ‘The principle that work can have a significantly positive impact on recovery from physical and psychological illness is missing from the current edition of Good Medical Practice.'
A DWP spokesperson said: ‘We would be keen to see consideration of work-related issues included. But the DWP has at no time suggested this be a duty - this is a matter for the GMC.'
Dr Daryl Mullen, a GP in Wigan, said: ‘If anyone has a duty to get people back to work I'd have thought it would be the government, can we get them struck off if they fail?'