Thursday 23 October 2014

Doctor nets €100,000 for writing sick certs

Published 25/08/2014 | 02:30

ONE doctor’s surgery received more than €100,000 in State fees for writing sick certs and medical reports last year,
ONE doctor’s surgery received more than €100,000 in State fees for writing sick certs and medical reports last year,

ONE doctor's surgery received more than €100,000 in State fees for writing sick certs and medical reports last year, despite a promised clampdown on the practice by the Department of Social Protection.

It is the second consecutive year in which an unnamed doctor or surgery was paid six figures in the controversial scheme which cost taxpayers more than €21.1m in 2013.

This is despite a 33pc overall reduction in the cost of the certification scheme since 2011, when it cost the Department of Social Protection's illness benefits branch more than €31.6m.

The total spend last year was also down on 2012, when the State paid out €25m. Doctors are entitled to claim €8.25 from the department for every sick certificate they issue.

Last year, 2,833 GPs and doctors were paid an average of €7,465 to issue sick certs compared with an average €8,653 in 2012 and €10,859 in 2011.

The largest payment this year was for one GP practice at €100,295.80, followed by another doctor who was paid more than €80,000.

The largest number of doctors (787) were paid between €5,000 and €9,999 under the scheme. The department would not identify the doctor or surgeries involved due to data protection issues.

The Department of Social Protection announced last year it hoped to reduce the cost of sick certs to €20.7m in 2013.

And while last year's payments fell short of that goal by more than €600,000, a spokeswoman said: "The department has successfully achieved significant reductions in the cost of payments for medical certificates and reports for illness and disability related schemes." The department insisted it was still trying to rein in spending and set up a pilot project last year which was being assessed.

Irish Independent

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