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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

New GP-exclusive indemnity organisation promises to slash fees

Exclusive The first new medical defence organisation to launch in 100 years says it will be able to offer 'almost all' GPs lower indemnity fees.

The new not-for-profit organisation, which has been launched by a group of GPs in England, said this is because it will focus exclusively on general practice, allowing no other healthcare professionals to make use of the service.

The Medical Defense Society (MDS), which launched this month, said it has partnered with lawyers and medico-legal experts to offer litigation advice, human resources, legal employment advice and training among its services.

MDS CEO Rohan Simon told Pulse that the intention behind the new organisation was to reduce costs to GPs for taking out professional indemnity.

According to Mr Simon, MDS was the first ever indemnity organisation created exclusively for GPs and has had over 100 enquiries from GPs already, including 20 applications to join.

He said: 'The intention is to offer indemnity fees which are competitively priced. We believe that in almost all cases the indemnity fees will be lower than what GPs currently pay out however, each application will be carefully considered and the fees will depend on individual GP circumstances.'

The news comes as average GP indemnity costs have been increasing by an official 10% annually, with Pulse being told of 25% year-on-year increases, due to rising number of claims and rising costs of claims payouts.

It also comes as MDOs have warned that costs are due to rise even further, due to the recent decision to reduce the discount rate, leading immediately to higher claims payouts in the case of lifetime compensation awards.

Acting BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'It's for individual doctors to decide which MDO they use but they need to ensure that they are fully covered at all times.'

GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones added: 'Any new entrant to the market creates competition which is a good thing, however without seeing their policy documents I couldn't say whether what they offer is any better or worse than what is already available in the market.

'GPs need to organise the right indemnity for themselves. The GPC in England and Wales is working on a long term solution to the problem of GP indemnity.'

In response to the 'urgent' situation, the BMA's GP Committee has said it is in talks with the Government to increase a promised £60m fund to cover indemnity inflation during this year and next.

NHS England, the Department of Health, the GPC and the three existing MDOs also remain in discussion about how the cost of GP indemnity can be stemmed in the longer term, by reducing the number of claims as well as their cost.

In the interim, the DH has pledged GP indemnity inflation will be covered in the short term, however despite this has not pledged to increase the £60m two-year compensation fund.

Last week, Pulse revealed that GP leaders said 'everything is on the table' for the future of GP indemnity, including a fully state-funded scheme.

The existing MDOs are campaigning for legal reforms to bring down the costs, including MPS last month launching a bid for nine far-ranging litigation reforms.

Meanwhile, the DH has yet to respond to a consultation on plans to cap the fees lawyers can claim in negligence claims cases worth up to £25,000.

Readers' comments (18)

  • I remember st paul. I refused as we don't know them. there is potential for gps to go bankrupt if they can't pay and go in to administration. best mps mdu find ways to reduce cost.

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  • St. Paul was cheap I think because it offered only concurrent cover, meaning that once you retired you had to keep up payments in case someone claimed retrospectively

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  • MDU have found a way of blackmailing gps by not supporting cases if you are not with them for medico legal cases when you were with them. Also their associates help solicitors to make money by extending the cases for no reason to add your stress then leaving Mdu by getting partnership with firms. Once you clear this i am happy to join you. Also Mdu failed to declare the salaries of their big bosses and associates.

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  • Mdu also do not clear the list of cases even after its cleared. They gave wrong information to next mdo. Very dishonest but they have links with solicitors who sue you. I never knew these kind of people exist on this planet. The planet that's gonna vanish in few years.

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  • Ccg mdu mdo gmc pct bma and LMC they were all born to same parents. Parents who never worked and gave birth to losers. Beware of them.

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  • GP's can expect crown indemnity only when they move to a fully salaried model.

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  • @Know my Limits: I can say exactly the same things about MPS: Conclusion - it's a criminal cartel and like cartels, whether peddling drugs or indemnity policies, should be investigated and punished for illegal actions!

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  • I got my fingers burnt badly by my continued contact with the MDS. After I had been refused renewal by the MDU after 17 years, which then triggered a series of domino effect refusals from the MPS and MDDUS, all based on the so-called Letter of Good Standing that purports to only display the headline allegations of complaints that were raised with them but never go beyond that into the respective merits or outcomes in each case, I was then tossed around the private indemnity market very exploitatively by being labelled as a 'distressed doctor' who quoted me outrageous premiums as high as 47k or not at all.

    At this stage the MDS stepped in promising to offer me a lifeline by looking at the cases with compassionate clinical eyes and ensuring I was given fair treatment. It bears mentioning that all bar none of the dozen or so cases over a decade were vexatious complaints that were settled at practice level, but which continued to dog me by remaining on my record, and continued to be treated as a disgraceful stain by all the underwriters sittting in judgement over me. The MDS asked for and I provided chapter and verse on each of the complaints. To my disappointment, after being accepted but strung along for 5 months of being assured they would be launching imminently, I was offered membership but under extremely humiliating and completely unworkable conditions.

    The first was that I would have to attend a communications skills course conducted by the RCGP every year, and provide documentary evidence of this. Fair dos. Whether or not the complaints were due to my skills not bring upto scratch, I thought to myself it's never a bad idea to attend such courses. However, the second condition was well and truly bizarre. I am a peripatetic locum, and now I was being told I could only work in a total of three practices over the next two years. When you consider that the first three practices I worked for since April (when I renewed my indemnity with a private organisation at great expense but with no such restrictions) have only called me back for 2 more sessions, none and 3 sessions respectively, with no promise of ongoing work, you have a dead duck in the water. Not only would I then be stuck with no recourse to locuming anywhere else despite a full set of skills and availability, but I would quite literally starve, let alone be able to afford either the indemnity or keep my skills upto date. The chairman, who had been dealing with my application from the start, and himself a GP, suggested why don't I work as a long-term locum or even salaried, as that would surely solve my problem? My answer to that was quite straightforward. If you could guarantee me that the first three practices that employ my services will all have me for regular sessions over two years--something which even they cannot foretell--then I could just about imagine doing so. I do not wish to be salaried at present for personal reasons, with unwell family abroad that is simply not an option.

    It is akin to saying, why don't you try to secure a job that pays you a quarter millions pounds a year? I had been led to believe that with jobbing GPs on the board deciding on my application, there might be some semblance of fairness to the process. But no, they too decided that I was too high a risk to be let loose on an unsuspecting public and had to be reined in lest I wreak further havoc. All this, mind, on the strength of a series of completely unfounded, trivial and proved baseless complaints that I was judged to be found wanting over, merely for the fact that someone had decided to complain, regardless of the facts of the matter. This is exactly what all the other indemnifiers have done so far after the MDU kicked me out, and what the MDS have also now put the boot in in the same way for. It feels like being convicted solely on the fact that one has been arrested, whether or not that is followed by a charge, a defence, a trial or even an acquittal.

    As I said, what shocks me the most is how colleagues who constitute the MDS board have decided the matter with their clinical brains on, and conveniently blamed it on the risk-averse American lawyers underwriting their organisation.

    After 5 months of patiently waiting while I was potentially offered an affordable indemnity but at a price that even Satan could not afford, I have been left feeling very bitter about being strung along by this start-up which promised the earth to begin with. I doubt they have the faintest clue about how locum GPs work in the UK. I do not intend to touch them with a bargepole again.

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