GPs cash incentives plan
23 January 2006 00:00 in Government/NHS related news
Doctors may be offered financial bonuses for signing fewer people off as eligible for incapacity benefit, according to work and pensions secretary John Hutton.
Mr Hutton said the government wanted to shake up the current welfare policy, so that "people don't just end up on benefit when there are other options".
He added that cash incentives might be offered to GPs to encourage patients back to work, as part of the government's green paper on welfare reform which is to be published this week.
"It has been mooted and I think, again, this is something we would like to talk to the GPs about," he said on BBC's Sunday AM.
Mr Hutton also said that the name for Incapacity Benefit would change, as it suggested that people were incapable of finding work.
Ministers want to reduce the number of people claiming incapacity benefit in the UK by getting some of them back into jobs. There are currently 2.7 million people claiming the benefit, at an annual cost of ?12.5 billion.
But Mr Hutton was quick to acknowledge that if people are seriously disabled, they should not be expected to work.
"We are here to help," he said.
The pensions secretary added that the scheme was already running in some areas, where doctors work alongside employment advisors to determine what jobs people requiring a sick note could do instead.© Adfero Ltd
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