The Welsh Government has announced plans to introduce a state-backed GP indemnity scheme next year.
It follows already public plans for a Government-backed scheme in England to protect GPs against rising indemnity costs.
The Welsh Government has said the scheme will be ‘aligned as far as possible’ with proposals for England to ensure GPs in Wales will not be at a disadvantage.
GP leaders have said the move is a ‘very important step’ forward for general practice.
Health secretary Vaughan Gething said the new scheme will cover all contracted GPs and other health professionals working in NHS general practice from April 2019.
The specifics of the scheme will be ironed out over the coming months by the BMA, medical defence organisations, Welsh Risk Pool, Department of Health and Social Services and the Welsh Government.
Tackling spiralling indemnity costs has been one of the Welsh BMA’s top priorities as it negotiates a new contract.
Last week Dai Lloyd, shadow cabinet secretary for public health and social services and previously a GP in Swansea, told Welsh Assembly members that the high cost of medical indemnity insurance was putting GPs off practising, especially those who want to do part-time or locum work later in their careers.
Mr Gething said introducing the same scheme in Wales as in England would prevent GP recruitment and cross border activity from being adversely affected by different schemes operating in England and Wales.
He said: ‘We have listened to GPs’ concerns. We understand the impact rising professional indemnity costs is having on the workforce and the potential for future pressure if different indemnity practices were in place in England and Wales.’
He added: ‘We’ve contributed towards the increasing indemnity costs through the annual uplift in GP pay and expenses since 2017, but today we are going further by responding to GP’s concerns with a long-term and sustainable solution.
‘This further demonstrates our commitment to invest in primary care in Wales and attract more GPs to work in Wales, helping us to make sure our health service is sustainable in the long-term.’
The BMA and Welsh Government have begun negotiations on an overhaul of the GMS contract, with an announcement expected next year.
Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of BMA Wales’ GP Committee, and deputy chair, Dr Peter Horvath-Howard said: ‘GPC Wales is very positive that the move towards a state backed indemnity system for all GPs in Wales represents a very important step towards increasing the sustainability of general practice in Wales by addressing this significant cost pressure on GPs.
‘It is reassuring to hear that the scheme will cover the wider practice clinical team, and will ensure that any vicarious liabilities GP partners have with the wider multi-disciplinary teams working across clusters is covered.
‘We look forward to working through the details with Welsh Government who have clearly recognised the need for action on this complex issue.’
Dr Rebecca Payne, chair of RCGP Wales, said: ‘RCGP Wales is delighted that the concerns of Welsh GPs have been acted upon and that the Welsh government will take steps to ensure that Welsh GPs will benefit from a state-backed indemnity scheme.’
She added: ‘It is crucial to get the detail right and we would be happy to work alongside Welsh Government, BMA Cymru and other stakeholders to ensure this announcement leads to positive change on the ground.”