“The Department is stating that the delays in payments are due to GPs ‘refusing’ to use the new forms. They are claiming that this is causing ‘significant delays to our processing time’,” the Association said in a statement this afternoon.
The NAGP claimed this is “merely a tactic to bully GPs into changing work practice without mediation or negotiation. The Department is now attempting to use the public to strong arm general practice into submission.”
On 17 August, according to the NAGP, it received written agreement from the Department confirming entry into a process of mediation, which had been agreed to “iron-out concerns in relation to the implementation and processes of the new illness certification forms”.
On 23 August, the Department withdrew its agreement to mediation without notice or explanation, the NAGP has claimed.
NAGP CEO Mr Chris Goodey commentedL “It is simply impossible to implement the new forms until all concerns have been satisfied and terms and conditions have been agreed. Apart from the additional workload on GPs for these new forms, there are many other concerns to consider.”
According to the Association, it has not received confirmation from the Department as to who is classified as the Data Controller or Data Processor.
“The NAGP were told that the software that the Department of Social Protection is planning to use had been funded by the HSE. The NAGP has serious reservations about data capture, data control and where the data will eventually end up. The NAGP have asked the relevant and pertinent questions to which we have yet to receive satisfactory answers,” it added.
“The issue is much broader than poor collection and implementation of data by the DSP [Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection]. The NAGP is concerned that there are, as yet undefined, ulterior motives in the Department’s secretive rush to install new software without consultation or elaboration of its purpose.”
Mr Goodey said that “in an era of concern surrounding personal confidentiality and personal privacy, in an era where Google and Facebook are being questioned about capturing data, GPs have a responsibility to protect their patients from a Government who could potentially have Big Brother motives.”
The NAGP said it is “not willing to advise” members to provide additional data on their patients until “all of the issues regarding data capture and confidentially have been adequately addressed by the Department”.
It added: “GPs are not in breach of their current contract as they are still providing the older forms (that have been successfully used for over 30 years) to patients who require them. Until agreement has been reached on the new regime, the NAGP are advising their members to continue to work under the terms of their existing contract.
“In light of this, we will be asking the Department to revert to the old certification system until all questions have been answered and agreement from all parties is reached. If the Department are not willing to engage, GPs around the country may have no alternative but to individually decide to withdraw from their contract with the Department.”