The National Association of General Practitioners have hit out at suggestions that GPs are charging the health service for deceased patients.

In response to news reports published yesterday, the Association has issued a statement pointing out that GPs do not charge for medical card patients, but do receive a fixed monthly sum per patient.

A spokesperson for the NAGP pointed out that some GPs may receive payments in circumstances where there had been a delay in registering the death of a patient, however the PCRS (Primary Care Reimbursement Service) automatically recouped any and all payments made in error by them.

“When a patient passes away, whether or not the patient is a medical card-holder, a doctor is by law, required to fill out a death notification form. Most patients are pronounced dead in hospital and the attending doctor signs the notification form. More often than not, the patient’s GP is not informed that their patient has died and may not discover this for weeks. Following the completion of a notification form, a death certificate is completed,” the spokesperson said.

This certificate is then passed to the HSE immediately and the NAGP understands that the administration team of the HSE cross-reference this information with information held by them. If the deceased was indeed a medical card-holder, the patient is then delisted immediately.
Don Punch, Secretary of the NAGP commented: “Yesterday’s news story was a missed opportunity to highlight the fact that GPs are under-resourced and spend far too many hours dealing with unnecessary administration, which is taking away from their ability to treat patients, many of whom now face the prospect of having their medical cards taken away.

He added: “GPs are struggling to deal with the day-to-day carnage that is being thrust upon them by continuous, unnegotiated budget cuts which inevitably is having a disastrous effect on patient care and ultimately patient safety. The impact on morale on an already beleaguered group of health professionals, who have made it their life’s work to provide a first class health service for the people of Ireland, cannot be understated.”