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GPs sick certs cost State €30m a year

THREE Dublin Medical practices earned over €203,000 between them for issuing sick certs to patients last year.

Top of the league was the Ballyowen Medical Centre in Lucan in West Dublin which took in €82,938.35 for issuing thousands of certs at a cost of €8.25 each.

The practice has 13 doctors who treat a large number of patients in a densely populated area.

Nangor Medical Centre, in Clondakin, earned €60,904.47 and Fairview Health Centre took in €59,986.96.

Other high earners included Hollyhill surgery in Cork which received €74,077, and Dr Thomas Walsh in Celbridge, Co Kildare who was paid €73,617.17.

The payouts were part of a €30m bill for sick certs paid by the Department of Social Protection to GPs last year. The details were given to Labour Dublin south east TD Kevin Humphreys who asked why some GPs charged private patients a fee while they received an additional payment from the Department of Social Protections.

Mr Humphreys said the figures "highlight the often cosy relationship" between the State and the professions.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the arrangement was a "long-standing one".

She said that the doctor was required to provide the department with a medical opinion regarding the fitness for work of the patient.

"The payment is in respect of the provision of the opinion."

She added that claims were reviewed regularly by department doctors.