Press Release sent to Media – 28th August 2018 
Response to statement from Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection

It is with a sense of grave concern and disappointment that the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has learned of a recent statement by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection which is suggesting that GPs are to blame for a calamity of its (DEASP’s) own making.

The Department is stating that the delays in payments are due to GPs “refusing” to use the new forms. They are claiming that this is causing “significant delays to our processing time”.

This is merely a tactic to bully GPs into changing work practice without mediation or negotiation. The Department is now attempting to use the public to strong-arm General Practice into submission.

On the 17th August, the NAGP had received written agreement from the Department confirming entry into a process of mediation. Mediation had been agreed in order to iron out concerns in relation to the implementation and processes of the new illness certification forms.

On the 23rd of August the Department withdrew their agreement to mediation without notice or explanation.

NAGP Chief Executive Chris Goodey said: “It is simply impossible to implement the new forms until all concerns have been satisfied and terms and conditions have been agreed. Apart from the additional workload on GPs for these new forms, there are many other concerns to consider.

“Additionally there are data protection concerns. The NAGP have not received confirmation from the Department as to who is classified as the Data Controller or who is the Data Processor.

“The NAGP was told that the software that the Department of Social Protection is planning to use had been funded by the HSE. The NAGP has serious reservations about data capture, data control, and where the data will eventually end up. The NAGP has asked the relevant and pertinent questions to which we have yet to receive satisfactory answers.

The issue is much broader than poor collection and implementation of data by the DSP. The NAGP is concerned that there are, as yet undefined, ulterior motives in the Department’s secretive rush to install new software without consultation or elaboration of its purpose.

The Department is also stating that “GPs need to consider their patients”. GPs who are currently using the old forms are putting their patients first as GPs are completing the old MC1 and MC2 forms which they are doing (despite the DSP having unilaterally to cease paying GPs) so that their patients can be paid.

Chris Goodey stated: “In an era of concern surrounding personal confidentiality and personal privacy, in an era where Google and Facebook are being questioned about capturing data, GPs have a responsibility to protect their patients from a Government who could potentially have Big Brother motives.

“The NAGP is not willing to advise its members to provide additional data on their patients until all of the issues regarding data capture and confidentially have been adequately addressed by the Department.”

“GPs are not in breach of their current contract as they are still providing the older forms (that have been successfully used for over 30 years) to patients who require them.  Until agreement has been reached on the new regime, the NAGP are advising their members to continue to work under the terms of their existing contract.

“In light of this, we will be asking the Department to revert to the old certification system until all questions have been answered and agreement from all parties is reached.

“If the Department are not willing to engage, GPs around the country may have no alternative but to individually decide to withdraw from their contract with the Department.”

The NAGP represents over 2000 GPs.

Chris Goodey is available for interview on telephone no 01 2546199