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Government to introduce 'state-backed' indemnity scheme for GPs

The health secretary will today announce plans for a new ‘state-backed’ indemnity scheme for GP practices that will see them paying a membership fee to have their fees covered.

As Pulse reported this week, Jeremy Hunt will tell delegates at today’s RCGP Conference in Liverpool that he is discussing plans to include the option of a new membership scheme into the 2018/19 GP contract.

Pulse understands that details around the cost of the scheme for practices and who it will cover are still being worked out.

It 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 health secretary is also expected to signal plans for a new state-backed scheme for clinical negligence indemnity for general practice in England, providing a long-term solution to the increasing fees which are forcing doctors out of the profession.

‘While in recent years NHS England has protected GPs against the rising value of claims, the average GP now pays around £8,000 a year on their clinical indemnity cover. Alongside HM Treasury, the Department of Health will work with the GPC, the RCGP and the four medical defence organisations on the best way forward.’

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, said: ’It is encouraging that the secretary of state has recognised this unacceptable financial burden being placed on GPs. Average indemnity costs have risen by more than 50% between 2010 and 2016. There is clear evidence from a recent NHS England survey that this is reducing GPs willingness to work, for example, in out-of-hours settings where the average annual indemnity rise is around 20%.

’It is vital that every GP has this form of insurance, but they should not be expected to be in a system where they are facing inflated yearly increases, especially at a time when many GPs are working increasing numbers of hours to provide care to patients. The commitment to provide state-backed indemnity cover is a particularly welcome step after the talks the government has being having directly with the BMA over the summer. We do, however, need more detail on the financing of this scheme and it must cover all GPs whether they are a partner, salaried, locum, prison or other GP. It is also important we make progress quickly and deliver real change.’

Mr Hunt is due to give his speech this morning.

The speech will also announce plans to extend the £20,000 ‘golden hello’ scheme, incentives for medical schools to produce more GPs and regulation of physician associates.

We’ll have more developing on this story throughout the day on PulseToday

Readers' comments (19)

  • There are lot of LOCUM GPs out there, what about them?

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  • initial impression underwhelming.it won't stop the rot matey boy.

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  • Crown indemnity with no catches wideboy. Nothing less.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Lately , the Tory party has become a problem-recognising(after seven years in power) rather than problem-solving party . If you read the news everyday , the land is desolated with fire everywhere: universal credit introduction and it's fallacies, social services super-overstretched to deal with those neglected in our society (e.g. children taken into care), the lasting damages to NHS with stealth austerity in the name of efficiency saving and the list now goes on. Obviously, these problems are well covered by a lid called ' Brexit uncertainty' .
    'Solution' is not a solution until it manages to bring on some positive outcomes.
    I see the health secretary as only part of this pathetic government led by our just about managing prime minister .
    So don't hold your breath , we shall see what this state-backed indemnity is all about with time. After all , this is never a grant of generosity but the bare minimum this government must provide.

    If the soul is something ever exists , let it be the source from where we exercise humanity.
    Problem is you lose your soul when you turn into a zombie . Perhaps, uncle Corbyn was conscious enough to ask auntie May to 'show some humanity'.........

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  • Doctor McDoctor Face

    I dont think that locums can have it all ways. Perhaps this may encourage some of them to take on the other hardships of being a partner.

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  • Locums will have to be covered otherwise there will be no locums to cover the partners' holidays.
    Not sure what is meant by a "paying a membership fee to have their fees covered". Sounds like joining the NHS litigation authority with reduces rates for stat and mand training and safety records etc .

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  • I don't expect this government to provide a solution to the problem - just some manipulative process to achieve their - and those that run the countries - aims

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  • GPs get full tax relief on the fees anyway so what is all the fuss about

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  • so we get 40% back on £10-12K (and climbing) defence fees, not 100% That's what the fuss is about. And locums are on NHSE hit list so don't expect any help there

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  • Very welcome and hopefully will encourage and support a more diverse workforce in primary care, the more immediate solution to the lack of GPs.

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