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The waiting game

State-backed indemnity scheme to cover 'all GPs for all NHS work'

The ‘state-backed’ indemnity scheme will be open to all GPs, including locums and sessional work, for all NHS work, the health secretary has announced. 

The scheme will be available in April 2019, health secretary Jeremy Hunt told delegates at today’s RCGP Conference in Liverpool, alongside an announcement that he was expanding the £20,000 ‘golden hello’ scheme and was looking into regulating physician associates.

He added that it will be available to locums and sessional GPs, but stopped short of promising it would be for all practice staff.

Pulse had previously reported that the scheme would cover all practice staff, but Mr Hunt said this was not the case.

He was asked by Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, whether the scheme would include all practice staff and locums.

Mr Hunt replied: 'I can give the commitment it will be for doctors working in general practice. The wider commitments, I would love to be able to give you, but I don’t know the answers. I don’t want to promise something I will have to retract later.’

Earlier in his speech, he had said the scheme ’will take time to introduce’.

He said: ’It will take us 18 months. We need to negotiate with the BMA and the medical defence organisations. It will be introduced in this year’s contract discussions.

’It will be more affordadle and reliable for you. We’ll have control of variables that makes indemnity fees fluctuate… I hope this will give some stability.’

The announcement of the scheme follows pressure from the profession and Pulse to tackle the problem of rising indemnity fees.

GP leaders gave the announcement a cautious welcome, but said more details on funding and who it will cover was needed.

Pulse last week delivered a letter to the Department of Health signed by more than 300 GPs calling on the Government to ‘fully reimburse the cost of GP indemnity’.

The BMA’s GP Committee warned earlier this year that rising indemnity costs were set to make the profession ‘untenable’, especially with potential changes to the size of compensation payouts.

But in a statement today, the DH said that it is looking at a ‘long-term solution’.

It said: ‘The Government is planning to develop a state-backed indemnity scheme for GPs, to protect them from the costs of clinical negligence claims, subject to further work on relevant issues.

’Our ambition is to provide a more stable and affordable system for GPs. The scheme could provide financially sustainable cover for claims arising from the delivery of NHS services.’

Please note - this article was amended at 11:55 on Thursday 12 Octboer. It previously stated that the GPC said it would cover all practice staff. However, Mr Hunt said this was not necessarily the case


Readers' comments (35)

  • The government have once again taken a very short sighted quick-to-please option. They are failing to tackle the reason behind the rising costs of indemnity - patient's lawyer's costs (often more than the compensation available) and increased litigation, and the fact that compensation is on the basis of the patient having to pay for private care even when that care is available on the NHS for free.

    The money will come out of the health service budget and will impact on the funds available for patient care. The cost will be factored into GP contract negotiations and everyone will get paid less to compensate. It won't cover attendance at inquests or assistance with GMC complaints (which are on the up year on year).

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  • Have the MDU really halved fees?

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  • A virtual Nobody.
    Problem is that the insurance companies cap what you can charge for private work and it is very low

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  • "STATE backed" means you pay your indemnity of £10k to STATE instead of MDU. GPs are so naive and fool.

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  • A week on and the wheels have fallen off this bandwagon already

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