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Two out of five GPs now retire before 60, analysis suggests

The proportion of GPs who retire before the age of 60 has increased from one in five (21%) to two in five (39%) since 2011, the Medical Defence Union has said.

The MDU, which is the largest provider of GP medical indemnity in the UK, linked this to rising costs of clinical negligence cover.

The analysis further revealed that the average age at which GP members of the MDU retired in 2017 was 62 compared with 65 in 2011.

The MDU also surveyed 900 non-retired GP members to find that a third were considering leaving the profession due to the rising costs of indemnity.

MDU professional services director Dr Matthew Lee said: ‘These figures are really worrying. At a time when NHS general practice is under unprecedented pressure, to see GPs retiring early or considering leaving general practice altogether can only make the problem worse.’

Dr Lee said that the cost of indemnity, which GPs have to bear themselves unlike their hospital colleagues, is ‘hurting them and making it harder to provide services to patients’.

The data come as the Government has announced that it will develop a state-backed scheme to help with GP indemnity costs, however with no detail worked out it is unclear what impact it will have on costs.

Dr Lee said: ‘Crucially as well as paying for future claims, the state-backed scheme must pick up historic liabilities, as happened when NHS indemnity was introduced for hospital doctors in 1990. This will ensure a smooth transition.

‘GPs should not be left paying for the current indemnity crisis which is not of their making.’

The state-backed scheme was announced after Pulse handed health secretary Jeremy Hunt a letter demanding a solution to the GP indemnity crisis, signed by 300 GPs, this autumn.

It prompted the MDU to change its indemity product and slash the price in half, however the DH warned taking out the product could leave GPs liable claims its scheme may not cover.