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An agreement on closed certification has also been reached, with all changes due to come into effect from 01 March next year.
According to IMO GP Chairman Dr Pádraig McGarry, until this time GPs should continue to certify weekly, use new forms as old stock runs out, and refrain from using photocopied forms as they will not be paid.
In correspondence to members, seen by the Medical Independent (MI) ,Dr McGarry said the new arrangements would “reduce the administrative burden on general practice in so far as there will no longer be a requirement for the patient to visit the practice each week to receive a cert”.
Dr McCarry said the agreement “represents a significant increase in the resources to general practice, reduces the administrative burden and avoids any unilateral actions”.
From March, GPs will be paid an assessment fee of €50, which covers each assessment with the exception of the first three weeks.
“However once the 3 week assessment period has passed and in line with the guidelines there are instances where the patient will require or request a further assessment to enable a further period of certification and these assessments will be paid at the rate of €50,” Dr McGarry explained.
Monthly and six month cert fees will be €10, as patients who have been put on monthly and six monthly certs by the Department do not require assessment and will require only current levels of certification.
Regarding other social welfare reports, it has been agreed that no amendments can be made to the reports in terms of additional workload without discussion with the IMO.
All current reports, including the current carer’s report, will be paid at the new rate of €60 from March.
There will be no obligation on GPs to use the proposed new e-certification system when it is introduced, Dr McGarry said.
He explained that the new closed certification system involves a GP, following consultation, assessing the patient in relation to expected duration of absence, type of work done by the patient and the illness/injury they have.
“Once this assessment is made the GP will complete the new form, pending the introduction of e-certification, and will code accordingly. The codes on the form and on the e-certification system are the most common forms of illness under the claim system. This is not an occupational health assessment,” Dr McGarry stressed.
“The Closed Certification Guidelines will indicate the average duration of absence from work for certain conditions, however, at all times these are to be considered guidelines and the GP may use their clinical judgement.”
E-certification is under testing and before its introduction the Department and IMO will issue information and support material to GPs.
Meanwhile, the NAGP has begun balloting its members on the IMO agreement.