Dozens of GPs took to social media recently to complain about the changes, which they claimed were introduced with “no advance notice” and discussion.
Several GPs were refusing to use and sign the new forms amid General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-related concerns regarding the use of confidential patient data.
Following discussions with representatives of the medical profession, the forms were redesigned and due to come into use on an interim basis on Monday, 23 July, according to the Department.
A letter outlining the change was sent to all GPs on the Department’s panel with posters for surgeries and supplies of new certificates, the Department explained to GPs on Twitter. It added that some GPs were already using the new forms and certificates
“Unfortunately, some GPs didn’t receive enough certs and the Department has arranged that more supplies will issue… In the meantime, GPs who run out of new certs should continue to use the previous certs MC1 and MC2,” a tweet stated.
“The Department acknowledges the late notice some GPs received in relation to the new forms and certs. The Department apologises for any inconvenience caused to GPs and their practices.”
Patients seeking illness benefit are obliged to see their doctor and send in a MED1 medical certificate each week for as long as they are ill, unless told otherwise.
GP Dr Conor McGrane reacted to the Department’s tweets by stating: “We don’t know how these new certs are to be claimed for, we can’t track them, we are mystified by all the extra info now required and we had no (zero) advance notice. Also, our IT systems and admin systems have been using the existing forms for decades.
“A few days is nowhere near enough time for us to make the changes needed, even if we were given the required info. GPs and patients yet again being treated like dog dirt on your shoes.”
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