The move comes following legal advice taken by the NAGP advising that the introduction of the new illness benefit forms by the Department represents a change of work practice and breach of contract.
According to correspondence seen by this newspaper, the NAGP is supporting “five individual GPs to take lead cases for breach of contract and to recover payment including penalties, interest and late payment fees, for services provided to patients on behalf of the DEASP”.
During the summer the Department issued new illness certificates and forms to GPs, which some GPs have alleged constitute a breach of contract and change in work practices.
The NAGP correspondence expresses thanks all members and non-members “for holding firm in relation to using photocopies of the MR1 & MR2 forms or using practice headed paper”.
The Association has been refused negotiating rights with the Department and initial talks between the parties on the issue were suspended because “we refused to recommend to our members to use the new sickness certification forms”, the correspondence states.
“The fact that the patients are receiving payment on the basis of the supposedly invalid forms lodged by you is simply adding insult to injury and entirely defeats the Department’s claim that the forms are somehow insufficient to permit proper processing.”
The IMO is currently in negotiations with the Department regarding a new closed e-certification system, contractual arrangements and implemention dates. Talks are due to be completed by the end of this month.
There have been no new contractual arrangements in place for GPs and no change to work practices pending conclusion of negotiations, IMO GP Committee Chairperson Dr Pádraig McGarry has said. He added that a breach of contract had not occurred.
The IMO is to make a proposal to members regarding new fees, and terms and conditions, following the conclusion of negotiations, it is understood.
The NAGP said it would consider the proposal when it is formally presented by the Department.
“As a democratic union we will ballot our 2,100 members as to whether to accept or reject the proposal. We respectfully request that all members honour the result of the ballot,” said the Association.