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State-backed GP indemnity scheme 'could cover historic claims', says health minister

Exclusive The Department of Health has said its state-backed indemnity scheme may potentially cover both future and historic claims.

In a letter to Pulse's editor Nigel Praities, health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said the work to develop the scheme was 'at an early stage'.

But he added that he did 'recognise the crucial role GPs play' in the NHS and wanted to 'ensure that the rising cost of indemnity is no longer a barrier to their continuation in practice'.

Lord O’Shaughnessy was responding to the letter Pulse hand-delivered to health secretary Jeremy Hunt in September, calling for GPs to be treated fairly to hospital colleagues with regards to medical indemnity costs.

Written by Blackburn GP and long-time campaigner Dr Preeti Shukla, the letter was signed by 300 GPs after being published in Pulse.

In his response letter, dated 15 November, Lord O’Shaughnessy said the state-backed indemnity scheme would 'take at least 12-18 month to establish' and ‘require careful negotiation’.

He wrote: 'My aim is that the [DH] delivers a more stable and more affordable system for GPs and their patients. The scheme could provide financially sustainable cover for future, and potentially historic, claims arising from the deliver of NHS services.

'The [DH] will work with GPs and their representatives, other providers of primary medical services and practice staff to develop the scheme and its scope. In addition, we will explore with GP representatives how to fund new indemnity arrangements, including the future costs of a state-backed scheme.'

Until a state-backed scheme is in place, GPs 'should continue to ensure they have appropriate indemnity cover in line with [GMC] requirements to enable them to practice', Lord O’Shaughnessy added.

The MDU, which is the only provider to change its policy in light of the DH announcement of a state-backed scheme, has asked GPs to back its demands for the DH scheme to cover both future and historical claims.

The DH had said the MDU's stance left GPs liable to indemnity costs the state-backed scheme may not cover.

The health secretary has said its scheme will be open to all GPs, including locums and sessional work, for all NHS work but the DH has previously told Pulse is cannot guarantee it will slash costs for GPs.

Dr Shukla's letter, which was published alongside a feature on the toll of rising costs,  had described how indemnity costs are ‘killing’ general practice. Read the letter in full here.

This comes as new data suggested two out of five GPs now retire before the age of 60, with many GPs considering leaving due to the cost of indemnity.




Readers' comments (14)

  • Vinci Ho

    Until this is done and dusted , no conclusion is to be made.
    And I am afraid that we owe nobody in this government credit for this . Because this mess should have never happened if it was not for the disrespect , disdain and denigration on GPs displayed by the government(s) , its longest serving health secretary and propaganda media.
    As I wrote today , it needs us more than we need it.

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  • Why is it so difficult? The indemnity organisations are the experts - why reinvent things? Just cough up the cash!

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  • “more affordable system for GPs and their patients.”

    Sorry I don’t recall my patients forking out nearly £12k a year so I can practice and respond to their every whim.

    Agree with previous poster, what exactly takes 18 months to sort, we are already paying for indemnity cover, simply pay our fees, then fight with the providers for lower fee.

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  • Doctor McDoctor Face

    'could' 'might' 'may' - all really useful words

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  • A three legged horse? And starts race when it's almost done?

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  • But then pigs can fly and a cow jumped over the moon?

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  • I might be a bit fed up about this it it occurs. Dr X pays half the amount for the next 2 years (because he is in the MDU), than Dr Y.

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  • Well I’m glad that’s sorted out. Clear as mud. The only certainty is that the issue has been kicked into the long grass, and was only raised by Hunt to stem the flow of GPs leaving the profession by pretending there was a permanent solution imminent. When the state sponsored indemnity arrives it will probably cost just as much with less coverage, forcing us all to take out expensive top up insurance.

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  • [•]

    Hasn’t happened yet and no one has any real idea when it will or even what it will be if it ever does. It’s all empty hot air. Mean time Mr Hunt is slime-ing his way to a different job, he fancies himself as deputy prime minister!?
    Screw general practice and screw the NHS. Come mid January I’m walking away from this hell. I hope I never have to log into an EMIS screen again. Good riddance to this crappy parasitic soul crushing excuse for a career. It was interesting if nothing else and at least I can use my knowledge to help my family and friends negotiate the nightmare of the NHS/private health care system as an angry educated annoying outsider.

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  • Not doing any more until it comes in as it is not worth it even before tax.

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