'We understand GPs are facing unbearable pressures from the cost of indemnity'
Letter from Dr Matthew Lee, professional services director at the MDU
GPs are feeling an unbearable pressure from the cost of indemnity for clinical negligence claims. This was highlighted by one GP in a Guardian column this week explaining that costs of running a practice, including indemnity costs, are spiralling out of control.
The MDU is hearing this message repeatedly from our GP members. In our survey on indemnity costs, a third of the nearly 900 GPs who responded said indemnity costs mean they are considering leaving general practice or moving to another area of medicine. Of significant concern was the number of newly qualified GPs who were considering either leaving general practice or leaving the profession altogether. That can’t be good for the NHS, the profession or patients.
Dr Lloyd Ebden, a GP in Swansea, told us: ‘I have seriously thought about reducing my time seeing patients and increasing the time I spend teaching to reduce (indemnity) costs. I don’t want to do this, but if it is the difference between paying my mortgage or paying my indemnity, I may have to.’
We understand the frustration of GPs who face this dilemma, which is not of their making. GPs continue to practise safely but indemnity costs rises are due to an outdated legal system. The government’s recent decision to drastically reduce the discount rate used for calculating compensation payments has made matters much worse. The sad fact is that our current subscriptions, while unaffordable for some GPs, do not yet reflect the true cost. The MDU has held back from charging the full subscription to take account of the discount rate because the government has since February promised additional funding. We are now nearly in August and nothing has happened. If necessary financial support for GPs isn’t forthcoming, there will be a crisis as many GPs won’t be able to afford to pay the true cost of indemnity.
There is still time to complete our survey and tells us your views. You can see more at www.themdu.com/savegp