According to IMO GP Committee Chairperson Dr Pádraig McGarry, the IMO has been in discussions with the Department for several months regarding social protection certificates.
Dr McGarry told the <strong><em>Medical Independent</em></strong> (<strong><em>MI</em></strong>) that the IMO entered talks with the Department “some time ago” on e-certification. “We agreed to use the paper format as an interim measure pending the full negotiation of an electronic cert, but we did not agree on timelines for introduction,” Dr McGarry said.
He described the Department’s introduction of redesigned illness benefit application forms and medical certificates as a “botched job” and said the IMO found out about the changes “at the same time as everyone else”.
“We have made further submissions on the issue to take into account when formalising a fee structure and we are hopefully meeting with the Department soon to expedite the issue,” Dr McGarry said.
A separate change to carer’s allowance forms was undertaken by the Department without the IMO’s knowledge, he added.
Meanwhile, an agreement to commence a mediation process regarding a new fee structure for illness certification has been reached by the NAGP and Department of Social Protection.
In recent correspondence to GP members, NAGP Chairperson Dr Andy Jordan said “all software development costs as a result of illness certification will not be borne by GPs — the HSE has decided that they will cover these costs”.
“The DPS [Department of Social Protection] continue to refuse to pay the €8.25 payment due to GPs who are using headed paper or photocopy MC2 Certs, citing that they regard this as industrial action by GPs and therefore does not warrant payment by the DPS. However, the DPS confirmed that they would continue to pay [in respect of] patients who presented old forms, new forms, headed paper or photocopies of the MC1 and MC2 Certs,” Dr Jordan added.
“On legal advice, the NAGP stated that there was a potential breach of contract between the DPS and the GPs who hold DPS contracts if they (the DPS) continued to refuse to pay GPs for work completed.”
It was agreed the two sides would meet again.
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