A dispute has broken out between some GPs and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection over new illness certification forms.

GPs who are refusing to use newly introduced forms and instead are using photocopies of old forms are not being paid the existing certification fee of €8.25.

The department has insisted that no patient has been unable to claim an Illness Benefit payment due to a GP using the old form, or a photocopy of an old form.

It has ceased issuing any more old forms to GPs.

From 23 July, the department introduced a new claim form, called "IB1" and a new medical certificate, called "MED1", to replace the previous MC1 and MC2 forms for certification of the Illness and Injury Benefit schemes.

The department is accepting photocopies of the previous forms from GPs to enable patients to make a claim.

However, it said that as each form has a unique serial number and can be used to certify a person for an Illness Benefit payment, it cannot be used to pay the fee due to the GP who provided it.

The forms were introduced in late July, during negotiations with another union, the Irish Medical Organisation.

Dr Padraig McGarry, chairman of the IMO's GP Committee, said the negotiations process has not been completed.

He said issues around a change to work practices and revised fees and resources have still to be dealt with.

The IMO said the issue had caused much anger and frustration among GPs.

Another organisation, the National Association of GPs, said it was not consulted and many of its members had expressed anger and frustration over the change.

It has advised members to continue to use old forms, or photocopies, pending a resolution of the issues, possibly by mediation.

Chris Goodey, Chief Executive of the NAGP, said its members continued to provide the certification service under the existing contract.

He said that most GPs continued to use the old forms or photocopies of forms.

Some were unhappy with the short notice about the new forms.

Some GPs said they did not receive adequate supplies of the new forms when the new system was introduced.

Other GPs have expressed concern about an increased workload with the new system.

The changes were introduced as an interim measure, pending the introduction of a new electronic system next year and a new fee structure and amount to be paid to GPs.

The department said the change is to improve the certification processes and to make the claim and payment procedures more efficient for everyone involved.

It said discussions are ongoing with the GP representative organisations on a range of related issues.