GPs across the country should be given extra training in occupational and workplace health, a government report has said.
The recommendation by the Department for Work and Pensions that a national educational programme be established follows the evaluation of six pilots run by the Royal College of General Practitioners between May and July last year.
These, it concluded, significantly improved the confidence of GPs in advising on fitness to work, from 33% beforehand, to 79% afterwards.
Almost all of those who attended said it had a long-term effect on the way they dealt with patients.
The main barriers to providing such advice were recalcitrant patients, unco-operative employers, a lack of familiarity with the process, too few local back-to-work schemes and time constraints on patient consultations, the GPs added.
“It is arguable that roll-out will help to fill in GP knowledge gaps regarding health and work issues, and could raise the health and work issue on their agenda,” the report concluded.