herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Our €31m sick cert bill must be cut, says Burton

Plans are under way to slash the €31m bill racked up by doctors for sick certs and reports.

GPs receive a fee of €8.25 for a standard cert and €44.44 for a more detailed medical report for social welfare purposes.

The volume of certificates signed by doctors means that the overall payments involved are quite considerable. Last year, the Department of Social Protection issued payments to 2,915 doctors for 3.4m certificates and 77,000 medical reports.

Minister Joan Burton said that the fees are paid in addition to whatever fees are charged by doctors for clinical examinations and treatments.

In the most recent Budget for 2012, it emerged that the costs of funding medical fees was to be reduced by 10pc.

"The Department is finalising its proposals in this regard," she said. And she added that the Department was reviewing its certification processes.

Employees who are sick and out of work for more than three days can claim benefits within seven days of becoming ill.

Payment of the benefit requires a doctor to sign an initial cert following a medical examination, and then to sign a further cert on a weekly basis.

Under an agreement dating back several years, doctors are paid the €8.25 fee for submitting a form to the Department of Social Protection.

On average, some 5,000 initial certs are sent to the department each week, while 50,000 weekly certs are completed.

fdillon@herald.ie

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