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Independents' Day

GPs to have indemnity costs covered for out-of-hours shifts through winter

Exclusive GPs signing up for extra out-of-hours shifts this winter will be able to have their medical indemnity costs covered by NHS England, as part of a £2m temporary scheme.

NHS England said the scheme, set to run from this month and until March 2016, comes in response to out-of-hours providers struggling to fill shifts.

This is due to the increasing cost of indemnity outside of core hours, acting as ’a barrier to delivering care’.

NHS England acknowledged that this was not a long-term solution to the problems with increasing indemnity costs

However, it said it was making £2m available ’to help with immediate out-of-hours provision while longer-term solutions are implemented’.

Worked out in co-operation with medical defence organisations, the NHS England Winter Indemnity Scheme will ’offset the additional indemnity premium for GPs who wish to work additional shifts for their out-of-hours providers’, NHS England said.

GPs wanting to make use of the scheme will be able to access it via their MDO’s website, once their additional hours have been confirmed with their out-of-hours provider, and MDOs will invoice NHS England directly for the added costs on a monthly basis.

Director of NHS commissioning Rosamond Roughton said: ’Rising indemnity costs are having a serious impact on GPs as well as stifling innovation in primary care delivery.

’We are determined to help resolve this issue and this announcement is just part of the work we are doing with our partners to further support GPs and the wider care primary care workforce.’

The initiative follows on from a pilot project last winter, during which some GPs working out of hours saw their indemnity costs covered for a limited time, as providers struggled to fill shifts.

The Family Doctor Association has warned of an impending ’meltdown’ in out of hours this winter as a result of indemnity fees rising by as much as a quarter year-on-year, making it unaffordable for doctors to commit to extra shifts.

The last LMCs Conference voted in favour of a motion for all GP indemnity costs to be covered all year round – as is the case for hospital doctors – as indemnity cover for out of hours was reported to cost as much as £35 per hour.

In the longer term, the GPC fears that the Government’s pledge to provide routine seven-day access for all patients will put an even higher strain on indemnity costs.

Longer term solutions proposed by the Department of Health as well as MDOs themselves included fixing or capping legal costs for small-value claims, amid reports of cases where lawyers charged the MDO more in fees than the patient received as compensation.

GP leaders have warned that rising cost of indemnity is another deterrant for GPs to join general practice and a Pulse survey recently revealed that half of GPs turn down out-of-hours shifts because the cover is too expensive.

Readers' comments (29)

  • I am not sure that this type of sticking-plaster response is either fair or productive.

    I am pretty sure I am not alone in realising that this was likely to be a problem - we have known for years.

    Try to actually plan how to manage problems before they arise and the NHS would just work better.

    That is all.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    A very good start. Now let indemnity providers invoice directly for the NHS-related cover for GPs normal day jobs - would improve our cashflow immensely and restore us to about the Red Book (pre 2004) system of indirect reimbursement - but a little better to reflect the vast sums of money involved.

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  • No incentive to cut costs for the MDO's then.

    Blatant favouritism to the biggest providers whom often supply day job GP surgeries as well.

    I just want a free market.

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  • My indemnity last Year for 7 sessions salaried 6000.
    This yr i am paying 16500 for 7 sessions with 4 as locum and 3 as ooh shifts. I asked quotation for 7 as locum i got 14500.
    Its not just ooh in general aswell its getting so high i am planning to leave uk soon.
    Maybe cheaper being a partner but hell no, not with this government at realms. Resigned being a partner and life's so peaceful. Not running of 4 sessions a day yourself with seeing pts, telephone calls, results. Call backs again and again..worst thing meetings over meetings and nothing achieved in ccg.

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  • Anything less than indemnity for ALL GP NHS work (both in and out of hours, long as it's NHS work) is not really good enough. And the NHS should source the indemnity for all GPs from all providers, in an open market and not just from traditional MDO's.

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  • Bob Hodges

    "Blatant favouritism to the biggest providers whom often supply day job GP surgeries as well. "

    So that's the established, really experienced, GPs that stop the entire NHS collapsing in hours yet per hour get paid a fraction of locum or OOH rates for their core in-hours work and carry huge liabilities for their practices?

    Those guys getting 'favouritism'? I hope so, because it would be a first.

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  • @6:09 PM

    16500 GBP for 7 sessions!!!!

    When i left UK 4 yrs ago my bank manager thought my MDU services debit was a mortgage and i was only paying 800 quid per month......
    has indemnity literally doubled in 4 years???

    if this is true its outrageous and no wonder gps are shunning OOH....simply not worth the risk

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  • Indemnity should cover ALL NHS work for GPs.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Only rush to the toilet when you have a strong urge!
    You wonder how this indemnity(both in hours and out of hours really)mess is allowed to develop to this current state? Whose fault is that?
    Temporary solution is temporary . Another piece of evidence that the GP crisis is real. Those who said there wasn't need to slap their own face! And don't tell me DoH , NHSE , GMC ,CQC (some would say the college as well) have nothing to do with creating an over-regulatory atmosphere , which has given the 'excuses' to medical defence organisations to recklessly increase the annual premium fee, both in and out of hours.
    The other fallacy is in where the Vanguard Sites situate . You really think this re-imbursement for OOH indemnity will stop colleagues to work for the better paid Vanguard Site shifts??

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  • OOH Providers are mostly private companies. This government can' afford to allow the private sector to collapse. On the contrary, they'll support them at any cost because privatization is the ultimate aim.

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