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NAGP seeks engagement as illness form row continues

The decision was taken at a recent national meeting of the Association, as turmoil among GPs continued after the Department issued new forms without adequate consultation in late July.

NAGP President Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail told the Medical Independent (MI) “we are advising our members to continue to use the old forms until the concerns we have raised with the Department are addressed”.

“If the Department will not engage with the NAGP, then we will advise our members to request that the Department engage with them individually. We have requested to meet with the Department once again.”

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Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail

It is understood that several GPs are considering terminating their contract with the Department and many are refusing to use the new forms.

Some GPs are using photocopies of MC1 forms but the Department has advised that GPs will not be paid for photocopied forms.

Conflicting accounts exist on whether a failure to use the new forms constitutes a breach of contract.

The IMO believes that failure to use the new forms, once stock of the old forms has expired, represents a breach of contract based on its interpretation. It is advising members to use the new forms.

However, the NAGP disagrees with the IMO’s position. The Association has advised members that, having taken legal advice, it considered that “the implementation by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) of the new forms and the associated process are unenforceable under the contract that you hold with the Department”.

The contract states: “I will certify as accurately as possible the specific disease or bodily or mental disablement, if any, which renders such person incapable of work, in such form and containing such particulars as the Minister for Social and Family Affairs may from time-to-time require.”

In a recent statement to members, the IMO acknowledged it had been a difficult time for GPs.

“We fully acknowledge that many members are unhappy with the process to date but we remain absolutely committed to the resolution of this issue,” the correspondence read.

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