The NHS will introduce a £60 million Indemnity Support Scheme for GPs to compensate the costs of inflationary increases in insurances costs, Pulse understands.
An NHS England board paper had said this would start immediately, but a later statement clarified that practices will begin receiving the money from April 2017, which will cover any increases in indemnity fees.
It will be worth £30m over each of the next two years, Pulse has learnt, and NHS England said it would be based on ’an agreed and transparent methodology, based on best available data’.
NHS England will also extend last year’s successful £2m winter indemnity scheme for out-of-hours GPS this into this winter, which saw 500 additional GPs working 14,000 extra out-of-hour shifts.
This funding injection – first trailed in the GP Forward View – is part of a ‘two-pronged’ strategy on rising indemnity costs, focusing on immediate support and a longer-term approach to reduce costs for GPs.
The longer-term approach will see NHS England working alongside the Department of Health, GPs, indemnity providers and the NHS Litigation Authority to bring about ‘fundamental reform’ of the current system..
The GPC told Pulse they ‘cautiously’ welcomed the extension of the scheme and the immediate moves to tackle spiralling inflation costs, but said these were ‘interim’ solutions and wider reform would be needed.
It also said it was seeking clarification from NHS England on how exactly these inflationary costs would be calculated, as today’s announcement provides little detail.
GPs have cited the spiralling cost of indemnity – a 26% increase last year – as a major reason for reducing their hours, with doctors saying it was no longer ‘worth increasing your hours’.
Some doctors in the North East even switched to locum work in Scotland because of the lower costs of indemnity.
Papers filed for the NHS England board meeting say the proposals had been worked up with the Government, indemnity providers and the profession and recognise this is a ‘complex’ issue.
The board papers stated: ‘To alleviate the immediate pressure of rising costs for GPs from indemnity, we will introduce a new Indemnity Support Scheme for practices for at least the next two years.
‘This will seek to cover the inflationary rises of indemnity costs for practices, using an agreed and transparent methodology, based on best available data.’
It added that work is ongoing to ‘look at the scope for more fundamental reform of the system, and consider the case for any more specific targeting.’
Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of GPC Wales and the UK lead on urgent care, said: ‘GPC UK cautiously welcomes the announcement today of this interim solution designed to cover the average inflationary uplift for indemnity for practices.
‘We are awaiting further details of the financial modelling and are actively involved in working with NHS England on finding long-term solutions for this complex problem, as this is just a short-term, interim recognition of the costs whilst the wider issues are looked.’
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Government had listened to GPs’ views that the current indemnity system was unsustainable.
He said: ‘We want the best working conditions for GPs so that they can provide the best service for patients. We have listened to concerns and know that for GPs, paying rising indemnity fees out of their own pockets feels unfair and unsustainable – so are today committing millions to help.”
NHS England director of primary care Dr Arvind Madan said: ’Three months on from the launch of the GP Forward View, we’re now getting on with implementing these plans. We understand the pressure on GP practices and today’s announcement shows how we’re getting on with immediate practical steps to deliver GPs much-needed support.’
This article was updated at 12:30pm on 28 July 2016, following NHS England providing more information
Read more updates on the GP Forward View