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Sick notes from doctors costing government €29million a year

Labour’s Kevin Humphreys has called for medical cert payments to be stopped after the €550,000-a-week bill emerged.

Kevin Humphreys has called for the payments to be stopped
Kevin Humphreys has called for the payments to be stopped
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THERE HAVE BEEN calls for some doctors’ payments to be scrapped, after it emerged the government spent almost €29million last year paying physicians who issue medical certificates for social welfare.

Doctors are paid €8.25 for each medical certificate they issue. Around three million certificates were processed last year for social welfare purposes, meaning the government paid out more than €550,000 a week. The final bill came to €28.7million.

However, this figure is lower than for the last two years, both of which saw final bills to the government of more than €30million. Labour TD Kevin Humphreys, who secured the Department of Social Protection figures in a parliamentary answer, has called for these payments to be scrapped.

Mr Humphreys said one practice was paid €83,000 last year for issuing more than 180 medical certificates a week. He added:

This is an unnecessary top up payment to doctors that we can no longer afford. This payment to doctors is on top of the €50 or more a patient pays for a consultation. This payment should be scrapped and the savings used to protect social welfare payments to the most vulnerable in our society. Cuts in spending should be carried by those who can most afford it.

He  continued that the medical certificate payment to doctors was “an area where the Minister can reduce expenditure whilst protecting frontline payments.”

Read more: GPs welcome scrapping of restrictions on treating medical card holders>

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Michael Freeman

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