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Labour offers 'handbook' to bullied GPs

Judith Collins MP National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

11 July 2008

Labour offers 'handbook' to bullied GPs

Instead of addressing the serious problem of doctor-bullying by sickness beneficiaries, Labour has produced a booklet for GPs about the Ministry of Social Development, 'its staff, processes, forms, benefits and entitlements', says National's Welfare spokeswoman, Judith Collins.

"This ridiculous gesture shows just how out of touch and in denial Labour continues to be. It's a slap in the face for GPs, the majority of whom have said in a just-published survey that they continue to be the victims of bullying by sickness beneficiaries.

"In May, Work and Income's chief health advisor, David Bratt, admitted the department was 'regularly' made aware that doctors up and down the country were being pressured to give able-bodied people the green light to collect the sickness benefit.

"Doctors said they believed Work and Income was turning a blind eye to the practice because the staff were more focused on pushing people onto sickness benefits to make unemployment benefit numbers look better."

Ms Collins says a survey just published in the New Zealand Doctor shows that 63% of doctors say the rate of bullying hasn't changed since September last year, and 5% say it's got worse.

Just over a third of GPs polled say bullying is a serious concern for them and that sickness beneficiaries are among the worst offenders.

"These results are alarming. The booklet, launched yesterday, won't do anything to stop the practice and Labour knows it.

"What's needed is for Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson to make it patently clear she does not condone staff directing able-bodied people from the unemployment benefit on to the sickness benefit.

"Until then, doctors will continue to be bullied."


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