GP surgeries could station job coaches under Government plans to get unemployed over-50s back to work.
A government source said ministers were ‘actively looking’ at the policy and that under the plan, work coaches would hold sessions in GP surgeries, where they could reach the over-50s ‘more easily.’
According to the Telegraph, the Government is considering the proposal to ‘plug record gaps in Britain’s labour force and boost the economy.’
GPs would also refer patients who want to return to work for advice and practical help, including updating their CVs.
The Government hopes this will reach older people, who are not on benefits or are reluctant to attend job centres.
In 2016, a similar project placing job coaches in GPs surgeries was set up in North London, but campaigners protested against the programme, defined at the time as an ‘intensive and personalised employment coaching pilot scheme’, saying it would threaten the doctor-patient relationship.
Organisers behind the ‘Surgeries for Treatment, Job Centre for Jobs’ protest warned that the Working Better scheme – rolled out across six GP practices in Islington – would ‘destroy’ the trust between doctors and patients in the north London borough.
The scheme, run by Islington Council, Jobcentre Plus and NHS Islington CCG, came in response to the council’s independent employment commission, which called for employment support services to be provided in places where hard-to-help people already went – like GP surgeries.
Last month Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed to get hundreds of thousands of people back to work as many businesses struggle to find staff.
He said that firms were ‘crying out for workers’, with far more people, particularly the over 50s, no longer in jobs compared to previous years.
He said: ‘We must get people back to work. It is to me as a Conservative unconscionable that at a time when businesses are crying out for workers, a quarter of our labour force is inactive.’
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also called for early retirees to return to work after a surge in early retirement since the pandemic.
In a speech he delivered last week, he said: ‘We will never harness the full potential of our country unless we unlock it for each and every one of our citizens. Nor will we fix our productivity puzzle unless everyone who can participate does.
‘So to those who retired early after the pandemic or haven’t found the right role after furlough, I say: “Britain needs you” and we will look at the conditions necessary to make work worth your while.’