GPs face 'intolerable strain' over benefit changes, warn ministers

The Scottish government has called for an urgent review of the rise in GP workload created by stricter benefit rules, warning that primary care is under 'intolerable strain'.

Nicola Sturgeon: GPs under strain
Nicola Sturgeon: GPs under strain

GPs across the UK have reported a surge in workload due to stricter benefit rules and now the Scottish government has asked for ‘urgent research on the demands that welfare benefit reform is placing on claimants and primary care’.

The letter sent by first minister Nicola Sturgeon and health secretary Alex Neil said that the rise in requests for help with appeals is creating a workload problem for GPs.

‘We are also aware some GPs do not provide information as the only fair way to manage an intolerable demand on them,' the letter says. 'This creates an inequity for those being asked to obtain information from their GP. We would recommend that the DWP undertakes urgent research on the demands that welfare benefit reform is placing on claimants and primary care.’

The introduction of the bedroom tax will ‘place even greater burdens on GPs in the future’, the letter said.

The Scottish government said that 37% of claimants win their appeals against fitness to work decisions which shows that something is ‘seriously wrong’ with the assessment process.

A DWP spokesman was unavailable to comment.

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