GPs could be given incentives to encourage them to refer employees to the Health and Work Service (HWS), but may lose the responsibility of issuing fit notes.
The HWS is due to be launched in October but concerns have been raised from employers and other groups about ensuring staff participate in the service without being compelled to do so.
Co-author of the Sickness Absence Review David Frost, who suggested the formation of the HWS, revealed that incentivising GPs to refer staff was a possibility.
"The first point is there will be guidance to GPs from the Department of Health that will make clear to them that referral to the HWS should be the default option," he said at the Health, Work and Wellbeing 2014: Towards a healthier future conference.
"I think it will then be up to the contractor for delivering the HWS to determine how best they are going to work with groups of GPs to ensure that the referrals are made. And that may well involve some form of incentivisation.
"That will be up to how the contract is finally agreed between the Department for Work and Pensions and the contractor."
Frost added that training would be required for GPs about using and referring employees to the Health and Work Service.
However he warned that the responsibility for issuing the Fit Note, which received strong criticism from the manufacturers association earlier this month, could be taken away from doctors.
"That is a really interesting point because there was a feeling that were GPs the best people to issue fit notes?
"In many cases we spoke to GPs who didn't actually want to do it, who felt conflicted. And it may well emerge and if this service does not deliver the necessary outcomes and if the government finds that practices are continuing much as they are now then the next step could be the taking away of fit notes from GPs," Frost added.
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