People are facing delays in receiving illness benefit due to a row between GPs and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection over new forms.

New illness certification forms were introduced in late July, but many GPs are refusing to use these and the department says the use of old forms is causing "significant delays to our processing times."

It has called on GPs to consider the needs of their patients and to use the new forms immediately, as payment delays for patients will continue where old forms are used.

The department said that the introduction of the new forms was discussed with the Irish Medical Organisation in advance.

It said that any person affected by a delay in payment and who needs financial assistance, should contact their local community welfare service.

GPs are unhappy with the way the new forms were introduced and say there is extra workload and the fee issue has not been dealt with.

The IMO is due to have further negotiations with the department on the issue this week. It said there was anger over the way the change had been rolled out.

However, the organisation said it had advised GPs to use the new illness certificate forms.

Dr Padraig McGarry, chairperson of the IMO GP committee, told RTÉ's Today with Miriam O'Callaghan that there were "teething problems."

He said that if GPs had stocks of old forms, the agreement was that these could be used up.

A rival 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 issue.

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 NAGP has advised members to continue to provide the certification service under their existing contract.

Many GPs continue to use the old forms or photocopies of forms.

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 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.