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GPs will dispute lost staff pay

GPs who have given up out-of-hours work are calling on medical defence bodies to cut their indemnity fees.

The GPs argue they now carry out fewer consultations and tend to see patients they are familiar with, so are less likely to make mistakes that lead to claims against them.

Defence bodies have so far resisted the demand and are maintaining that few claims relate to out-of-hours work. But they raised the prospect of varying rates for GPwSIs to reflect the relative risks involved in taking on certain specialties.

Dr Adrian Perkins, a GP in Kettering, Northants, said indemnity levels should be altered to reflect the changing nature of GPs work.

He said: 'I chose to forgo the financial benefits of out-of-hours work to concentrate on being a fresh, non-stressed full-time doctor for my patients.

'Is it fair for a full-time GP who has opted out to pay the same defence subscription as a full-time GP providing out-of-hours care? I would argue No.'

Dr Trefor Roscoe, a GP in Sheffield and GPC member, said that as defence bodies calculated premiums according to number of sessions, they should review the rates as many GPs had vastly reduced their hours.

He said: 'You are much more likely to miss meningitis in the middle of the night in a dimly-lit home than in a surgery during the day. I am still paying to take on the risk for patients I've no legal responsibility for.'

A spokeswoman for the Medical Defence Union said only 10 per cent of complaints stemmed from out-of-hours, and few of those translated into claims.

She said: 'There has been a slight increase in the proportion of complaints from out-of-hours but that doesn't mean it would have a massive impact on the number of claims.'

Dr Gerard Panting, director of communications and policy for the Medical Protection Society, said it would reconsider rates if it could be shown there was more risk associated with out-of-hours, but it was unlikely in the short-term.

But he sympathised with calls for GPs with lower risk special interests, such as dermatology, to pay lower rates.

By Ian Cameron

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