Doctors will be encouraged to tell patients with long-term illnesses to find a job after the Government intervened in new guidance for GPs.

The Department for Work and Pensions responded to a General Medical Council consultation to suggest that doctors should regard a patient returning to work as an “​essentia​l”​ indicator of successful clinical treatment.

The request has been included in new guidance for GPs, issued for consultation yesterday, despite claims that doctors are being asked to “​police unemploym​ent”​.

It has led to suggestions that the GMC was pressured into including the advice to help reduce the number of people claiming sickness benefit. The department also suggested that doctors should ask each patient their “​work status”​ when they attended an appointment, but this was rejected.

Ministers have accused the previous Labour government of keeping down the unemployment figures by pushing people on to incapacity benefit and are determined to cut the benefits bill.

A new draft of the GMC’​s Good Medical Practice guidance states that doctors “​must support patients in caring for themselves to empower them to improve and maintain their health”​.

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