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In recent correspondence to members seen by the Medical Independent (MI), IMO GP Chairperson Dr Pádraig McGarry said the Organisation “would not tolerate any breach by the Department in relation to GPs”.
The statement comes amid ongoing unease among GPs following attempts by the Department to push through new forms and work changes without consultation with GPs.
As negotiations between the Department and IMO continue, Dr McGarry said the Department “fully accept that the process for closed and e-certification requires a change in work practices and requires negotiations”.
“The new forms do not encompass any change to terms and conditions and GPs are advised when using these forms to only complete the details for which they are currently contracted – those being patient details and reason for illness to be inserted in ‘Other’ section – no ICD coding is required as it has yet to be agreed,” he added.
There are no new contractual arrangements in place for GPs and no change to work practices pending conclusion of negotiations, Dr McGarry confirmed.
With regard to the proposed electronic system for illness forms, the Department has acknowledged “the manner in which new forms were issued and the communication around those arrangements was not satisfactory and led to confusion and frustration amongst GPs”, Dr McGarry said.
Negotiations on the new system, contractual arrangements and implementation dates will be completed by the end of this month.
Dr McGarry advised that lead-in times for any new arrangements would be realistic and allow for practices and GPs to make suitable arrangements.
Issues due to be negotiated include the move from weekly certification to closed certification, manual to electronic certification, as well as resources and timelines.
Meanwhile, the NAGP has written again to Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty seeking an urgent meeting.
In the letter, NAGP President Maitiú Ó Tuathail expressed concern that delays of up to one month are being reported by patients in receiving their illness benefit payments.
He said GPs have concerns around patient confidentiality and data protection and added that the majority of GPs have refused to use the new forms.