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A faulty production line

Recruiter offering to provide indemnity for locums turned down by MDOs

Exclusive A major GP recruitment firm is offering to provide indemnity cover for GPs who have been turned down by medical defence organisations after going through GMC remediation.

Primary Care People (PCP) is offering to take out and cover the full cost of indemnity for GPs locuming on behalf of the company.

It said this comes after striking a deal with insurance broker Medical Insurance Advisory Bureau.

CEO Tawhid Juneja said PCP set up the scheme in response to the 'madness' of GPs being eligible for work but being prevented from doing so because they cannot get indemnity cover.

He said: 'Medical defence organisations operate with the lowest possible level of risks and many GPs are struggling to get MDO memberships because of these restrictions.

'[That is why] we have sourced our own indemnity insurance policy which offers in-hours and out-of-hours cover for our GP candidates.

'We finance the policy completely and leave our GPs free from the worry of having to pay astronomical fees.’

He acknowledged that it was 'essential' for regulatory bodies to 'ensure health professionals are suitable to practise' but that PCP has found GPs subjected to GMC scrutiny because of minor mistakes, or because they suffered from illness, were facing similar hurdles as those investigated for very serious mistakes or criminal misconduct.

He told Pulse: 'We are working with the healthcare sector to get as many of the affected GPs back into work.'

Mr Juneja said that unlike some other private indemnity schemes theirs includes 'run-off' cover for GPs should a claim be brought after they have stopped working for the company.

But the GPC urged caution, saying all GPs have to 'understand the complex issues around indemnity so that they are confident that the indemnity they have will cover them in the event of any clinical complaint, professional investigation or criminal investigation'.

GPC lead on indemnity Dr Charlotte Jones said: 'GPC is currently updating its guidance following the entrance of new providers to the market and this should be ready soon.'

GP charity the Cameron Fund, which supports GPs in financial difficulty, said that doctors being 'locked out of general practice' because of indemnity issues was 'a growing problem' for GPs who return from a GMC suspension - even when this was not related to a clinical issue.

Chief executive David Harris said the charity could not endorse the scheme as 'a perfect option' but 'would inform our beneficiaries of [its] existence'.

He said options for doctors in this situation were limited.

'Working in A&E, where the insurance policy is covered by the NHS trust, is a possibility. But there are some people who are locked out of general practice,' he said.

This is not the first scheme by PCP to try to overcome the struggles caused by a lack of GP workforce in the UK.

It has previously targeted GPs for employment who were coming back through remediation processes following mental health issues.

And, as revealed by Pulse, it is also working on a programme to train up European GPs to work in the NHS.

The issue of GP indemnity

MDOs are pointing to 10% year-on-year rises in claims against GPs as the cause behind rising cost of cover.

The Government has acknowledged the more litigious NHS environment and is looking at longer term solutions.

Health professionals deemed to come with a higher risk of claims have struggled with cover, while MDO members have spoken of hikes in annual fees of more than a quarter.

Until a long-term solution can be fund - one option for which is to cap the size of claim payouts and legal fees - the Government has put in place two short-term measures.

It is repeating the winter scheme whereby hikes in indemnity for taking on extra out-of-hours shifts are covered and has also said it will reimburse practices for any rise in indemnity costs next year.

Readers' comments (12)

  • There is a need for a more pragmatic indemnity where the medical practitioner has the option of paying part of the legal costs. That way less doctors will be let down by their defence unions.

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  • This 'exclusive' seems more like an advertisement for said company.

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  • We dont need pragmatic indemnity, people should simply have no right or ability to sue the NHS and it's staff.
    We have got tough choices about funding the NHS. I would vote for the government that promised 10% extra cash for care on the back of these savings.

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  • GP Partner @9.14pm

    Have you got a better option??

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  • Mr Mephisto

    What about Dr Daniel Ubani would he be covered by such a scheme?

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  • There's an obvious reform that would solve many problems.

    According to a recent article here, a patient who suffers harm through medical negligence is currently paid a cash sum based on the lifetime cost of private treatment for the harm they've suffered. Yet the NHS is still liable to provide that treatment for free.

    So the NHS ends up paying out twice - once in providing treatment, a second time in a cash payment (notionally) for the same treatment privately.

    If we limited payments to cover only treatment other than that the NHS was already obliged to provide, payouts would be vastly reduced, as would indemnity

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  • See, please look Sir James Dyson is offering an engineering course.
    Litigation, I hope, kills medicine.

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  • Until the UK Government steps in and makes changes to the Law I fear claims will continue to spiral out of control which will mean MDO's as well as Insurers will need to continue to monitor the premiums being charged for the cover. What I believe Primary Care People are offering is an innovative opportunity for GP's who currently have a sanction applied against them the ability (once remediated) to return to work in a safe environment protecting the Patient, the Practice and the GP. Its not a one size fits all.

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  • i personally know some one who is cleared by gmc to practice. he was asked vast some for medical indemnity( he told me ). it will be nonstarter for him. he is hanging his boots for good.
    very sad to see a gp who's all feed back form patient is 5 star.
    we need law to limit amount claimed.

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  • The MDOs are on a hiding to nothing. If they don't salt enough money away they (and their members) will not be able to claims. If the indemnifiers don't look at 'high claims doctors', the 'I've never claimed' members will be aggrieved.

    The situation here in the UK is now, I think, worse than in the USA - where individual states have set limits on litigation to avoid 'all their docs leaving'.

    I agree with several other posters on this topic - the profession and the MDOs are essentially victims of circumstances. This will all end in disaster unless the government changes the rules. This is an area where politicians can actually do something useful for once.

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