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NAGP employs debt collection agency to pursue DEASP for outstanding fees

The move is part of a three-pronged approach to recoup unpaid fees for photocopied illness benefit forms the organisation claims are owed to GPs.

The NAGP is currently engaging in talks with the Department on proposed changes to the content of reports, such as the carers allowance, disability and health reports.

But, according to NAGP President Dr Maitiu O’Tuathail, the Department is not open to discussing the issue of photocopies relating to illness benefit forms.

Many GPs have refused to use new illness benefit forms introduced by the Department last year and have instead opted to supply photocopies of the old forms.

Despite the impasse, the NAGP says it is hoping to work with the Department to reach agreement on payment of photocopied certificates.

If this is unsuccessful or resisted, the NAGP has told members “there will be a process of legal action and debt collection to pursue payment for all outstanding fees, including late payment charges and statutory interest”.

Solicitors and debt collectors have separately been appointed by the NAGP and have each been appointed on a ‘no win no fee’ basis.

Debt collectors will seek fees of about €50 for every photocopied certificate, commencing with “dunning letters and a series of phone calls” to the Department.

“If there is not payment on foot of these calls and letters then the debt collecting agency will issue a summons for non payment of fees. This will be lodged with the relevant court, depending on the value of the debt. At that point it will be up to the DEASP to defend their actions,” the NAGP Council advised members in correspondence.

About seven legal cases will be issued on behalf of individual GPs for collection of fees, meanwhile.

“This will be through the circuit and district courts depending on the level of fees due to the individual practice,” the NAGP has said.

Meanwhile, the results of a ballot of members on acceptance or rejection of the deal reached between the IMO and Department of the new illness benefit MED1 forms are due shortly.

New closed certification and e-certification processes for illness benefit claims are due to be introduced by the Department from 1 March.

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