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A third of GPs considering quitting over indemnity fee rises

A third (32%) GPs are thinking of leaving the profession or retiring because they cannot afford the increased cost of indemnity, a survey has found.

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) found this rose to 41% if the cost of premiums keeps going up at the current rate of 10% a year.

The survey of 846 GPs further found that many had already been forced to quit working out of hours due to costly indemnity.

Survey findings included:

  • 38% of GPs who responded had given up certain work, such as out-of-hours sessions, or reduced the amount they work because of the cost of indemnity;
  • 45% had reduced other outgoings; and
  • just 5% say they haven’t been affected by the increased cost of indemnity.

Comments from GP respondents included: 'I just despair. Does anyone really care for our patients and the NHS?'

'The costs are already crippling, not only will current GPs struggle to afford any increase but it is a negative incentive to recruiting young doctors into general practice, at a time we are already struggling with recruitment.'

’The Government must support general practice or the NHS will fail.’

'The public need to know that the cost of indemnity will take money away from provision of care.'

MDU chief executive Dr Christine Tomkins said: 'The spiralling cost of indemnity is the final straw for some GPs.

'Our survey reveals that many of them, and not just of retiring age, are considering quitting the profession. Even newly-qualified doctors say they are thinking of a career change.

'If a third of the GP workforce leaves the profession it will be really devastating for patients and for the NHS.'

She urged the new Government to 'act quickly by providing financial support to GPs that protects them from a massive rise in indemnity costs'.

She added: 'If GPs aren’t supported, many won’t be able to pay and there will be a crisis in general practice which would leave patients at risk.'

The Government is distributing £30m over two years to GP practices to cover the cost of rising indemnity fees. However, at the same time, defence organisations are warning of further increases to costs from rising litigation as well as increased payouts.

Dr Tomkins said: 'Before the election, the Government pledged that the Department of Health would ‘work closely with GPs and the medical defence organisations to ensure appropriate funding is available’ to meet GPs’ additional indemnity costs.

'This pledge must now be honoured.'

It comes as the Medical Protection Society launched a campaign last week to bring down the cost of GP indemnity by targeting the cost of litigation to the NHS as a whole.



Readers' comments (10)

  • It's better to quit than continuing paying in some cases up to 25% of your earnings as protection money.
    The system is heavily weighted against primary care and the least the government could do is to protect it from vultures as it protects those working in secondary care. There has to be political will for this but with an insensitive govt of rich arrogant snobs who turn people out of their homes at 10:30 in the night giving them an hour's notice, this will never happen in England.

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  • Why doesnt Christine Tomkins use the considerable resources at her disposal to go after vexatious claims?

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  • what are GPs moaning about.They get 45% tax relief on the subs anyway

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  • So even with the tax relief, it still costs around a months post tax wages to pay for indemnity. This is just about manageable when spread over the year but if you try and do extra sessions, you need to stump up the money in advance. Some types of working like exclusive OOH are no longer viable. Likewise some doctors have been priced out after large claims which may not have been entirely their fault. When the Ogden discount change feeds in next year, more jobs are likely to become unsustainable. It's a slow attrition rather than a bang but GPs are leaving and sessions are lost because indemnity costs too much. This is what we are moaning about.

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  • AlanAlmond

    Topdoc 12:15
    I'm a salaried GP and pay the lower rate of tax. Don't asume every GP earns the money you obviously do. My indemnity fees are paid out of my post tax salary and this is 22% of my take home pay. I've not had a pay rise since I joined my current practice 2 years ago. In June my Indemnity fees went up again by 12% which represented a 2.2% pay cut out of my monthly salary as of this month. If I did any more sessions I'd immediately move into a higher indemnity band and be a couple of thousand pounds worse off before I'd seen a single patient. I've just received a vexatious complaint from an angry patient who appears fixated on humiliating me. I'm coming to the conclusion I can no longer continue to be a GP. Perhaps you could give me a few words to persuade me why I shouldn't be looking for a different job. Some of us are evidently doing rather well despite the woes of their collegues. I do get the feeling that 'get on your bike...I'm alright Jack' is the defining theme of these lucky few. I invite you to convince me otherwise.

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  • I'm sorry to hear your plight.

    I agree with job becoming unsustainable. We do well at might practice but that's because we have made a decision not to rely on NHS income and about 1/4 of our take home is from non NHS work. If we lost non NHS, we'll struggle.

    As for complaints, completely agree. I got a complaint today because I declined to call USS dep during surgery to double check a very small cyst is definitely not cancerous. Explained at length how unlikely it is to be a cancer and why it will take more then 10min for USS to be re-reported and offered to write to clarify. Still patients has the "right" to complain, don't they?

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  • I already made the decision to leave. Australia welcomes me with open arms and my indemnity is pennies compared to UK, with higher earnings and much better QOL and income generation linked with work done.

    England is a declining nation and everybody should leave while they still can.

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  • Wiki 'Protection rackets tend to appear in markets where the police and judiciary cannot be counted on to provide legal protection, either because of incompetence (as in weak or failed states) or illegality (black markets).'

    This is extortion of GPs on a grand scale

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  • All part of the plan though...

    Make indemnity so expensive that GPs can't afford to pay it. Claim to reimburse it by paying peanuts towards the increase (with much pomp and ceremony).

    The real question here is about the indemnity fees of the GPs who are now employed directly by hospital trusts (see articles in this issue). If the plan is to get us all salaried and employed by hospital trusts so they can control us, this is an excellent way to go about it.

    And to the salaried GP who pays their own indemnity - plenty of other practices will pay your indemnity as part of the pay package, maybe you should point this out to your employers and if necessary move. We pay our salaried docs indemnity and it is one of the many reasons we are barely financially viable, but it is still the right thing to do.

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  • Maverick

    I retired from General Practice nearly a year ago, aged 55yr 9mths. I had expected to work until I was 60 and probably beyond, even although the writing was on the wall. I hit a perfect storm, crashed and burned out. I had to leave. When you drive across Barton Bridge on the M6 northbound and wonder "is it high enough to jump" you know it's time to go.
    Having come out the other side unscathed, life is WONDERFUL. If you can get out of the toxic cesspool that GPUK has become then JUST DO IT. You know you can. Use your imagination and your innate intelligence. Be selfish, for the sake of your family and loved ones. Stop posting comments here. Nobody with any influence reads your wise words. They don't care. If you read all the Pulse archives you'll see that nobody's listening. Use your time to plan your own future away from the NHS. Retire, emigrate, develop a private practice, change your career...... anything.
    This will be my last message. Think about your future.... YOUR FUTURE... not anyone else's.

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