Doctor Gerard Reissmann is a GP working in Newcastle. He spoke to Socialist Worker about the government’s plans to financially reward GPs who get patients who receive incapacity benefits back to work.
‘I am affronted at this proposed assault on both GPs and the sick.
We are seeing all sorts of messages coming from the government. This latest move seems to be saying that GPs are channelling people’s hard-earned taxes to the undeserving, the lazy and the dishonest. We are being asked to look down on those who need help in this way.
This whole idea is incredibly unhelpful. As a doctor my job is to be there for the patient – not to be an agent of the state.
There is absolutely no evidence that GPs are abusing the system, so what does the government want changing? It seems to be proposing a change to the criteria of who we help and why.
There is a shift in how we look at the sick. It is as though we now blame those who need our help for being sick in the first place.
I believe that this current attack is part of the government’s privatisation schemes. There are also real flaws in where the government expects people to work. We have unemployment and I don’t see any work creation programmes – it’s really about re-shuffling the cards.
It would be good to have the money and the space in the GP surgery to help people back into work. But I do not want to intimidate and pressurise people who are not ready or able.’