Louth TD Gerry Adams has written to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty asking about new claim forms that have been introduced for the illness and injury benefit schemes.
Gerry Adams said:
“Recently one of a number of constituents who have raised concerns about the new forms was handed a letter by her GP practice in which she was told that this new scheme had been introduced at short notice. The new scheme requires two forms to be filled in, one of these by the doctor. The letter from the practice said that there is a ‘significant amount of work involved in the changeover’ and that it is not ‘achievable on the ground at such short notice.’
The letter from the GP practice said that the doctors’ representative organisations – the IMO and NAGP – were meeting the Department to ‘try to sort out this mess.’ Until that was done the doctors were returning all of the new forms to the department. They said that they intended to continue issuing the old certificates in accordance with the contract they have with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection ‘until a satisfactory solution is found.’
For patients who are ill – some of them very seriously ill – to discover that their illness benefits forms are being suddenly changed and they are caught in a dispute between doctors and government is a matter of great stress and concern.
I have written to the Minister asking if there was any consultation with the NAGP or IMO before this changeover was introduced and what progress if any has been made? I have also asked if the Department will accept the old certificates and if the new arrangements have had any impact or delay in the payment of the illness benefits?
The Department’s website indicates that there is currently a two day delay in issuing some payments, this is unacceptable and I have also asked the Minister if she has allocated any additional personnel or resources to processing forms?”
Teachta Adams concluded:
“The manner in which this issue has been handled is a source of concern. Patients need urgent and immediate reassurance that claims for illness benefit will not be adversely impacted.”