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GPs call for ‘no claims bonus’ as medical defence fees soar

Exclusive A sharp rise in the number of claims against GPs has pushed the cost of medical defence body subscriptions up by as much as 9% in the past year, with some now paying five-figure fees, Pulse can reveal.

The Medical Defence Union said claims against GPs jumped by 20% from 2009 to 2010, while the Medical Protection Society said both the number and cost of GP claims had increased 50% in the past three years.

A series of GPs have told Pulse they are now paying record indemnity fees, with one now claiming to pay £12,000 annually.

The GP, who runs a cosmetology service and asked not to be named, told Pulse: ‘I started practice in 1978. Mysubscription then was £40 per annum and is now £12,000. I have never had a complaint from any of my patients so far in 33 years and feel I should have a "no claims bonus" instead of paying more.'

Another GP said their subscription had risen from £6,000 to £8,000 in the past two years, while a third was ‘staggered' to find their premium had increased to £6,695.

Both the MDU and MPS calculate the cost of a GP's subscription on a case-by-case basis, with the quote tailored according to a GP's earnings, specialities and the number of sessions worked.

An MDU spokesperson said a typical salaried GP would pay £5,270 a year, up 9% from 2010. A typical full-time GP partner would pay £5,995, although last year's figures were not available.

‘Some GP members will find that their subscription has increased this year reflecting the fact that in 2010 claims notified to the MDU by GP members rose by 20%,' she said.

An MPS spokesperson declined to say if fees had increased, but said: ‘This combination of increased frequency and severity has seen the cost of claims soar. It is not unusual to settle catastrophic injury claims for £6m now compared to £3.5m - £4m a few years ago.'

A spokesperson for the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland said: ‘We have seen an increase in claims and complaints, but this did not have a significant impact on rates for GPs.'

Dr Una Coales, an RCGP Council member and GP in Stockwell, south London, said: ‘I do not think it is right as some GPs may never have had to claim and yet are paying over the top to compensate for GPs who have.'

‘There should be a policy like in the US where rates are based on years of experience and number of claims.'

But Dr Barry Moyse, chair of Somerset LMC, said most GPs responded to rising costs with a ‘reluctant, fatalistic shrug of the shoulders'.

He said: ‘I think with insurance generally there is a sense of you can't beat them you just have to join them,' he said.

 

What GPs are paying

‘My MDU fees are £5040 for eight sessions weekly' – Dr A

‘I am with MPS now paying £8000 per annum - up from £6000 two years ago' – Dr B

‘I paid £5,995 to the MDU in June' – Dr C

‘I am with the MPS. My renewal premium this year is £6965 for 10 sessions a week' – Dr D

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