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16% rise in legal claims against GPs, says MDDUS

Medical defence organisation MDDUS saw a 16.4% rise in legal claims against GPs last year, it has said.

The indemnity provider said this showed a ‘growing trend for increased litigation’, but added that the rise was also driven in part by an 8.2% growth to the organisation’s membership.

In light of the development, it has written to the minister for NHS Productivity, Lord Prior of Brampton, to urge the Government to fast-track plans to cap compensation payouts for medical negligence claims, as discussed in the recent GP Indemnity Review.

In the letter, MDDUS CEO Chris Kenny said that the ‘absence of effective controls on the amount of costs which can be recovered in negligence cases’ was ‘a key driver’ behind rising costs of indemnity to GP members and that ‘substantive action is required on the underlying causes of these increases’.

According to a Pulse survey, indemnity fees soared by around 26% in the 12 months leading up to November 2015.

Mr Kenny told Pulse: ‘Part of the increase in clinical negligence claims notified against GPs can be attributed to a growth in MDDUS GP membership of 8.2% in 2015, with our overall GP membership rising 61% since 2011.

‘We also continue to see a growing trend of increased litigation overall with a rise in the frequency of claims against doctors over the last few years. From our experience, these rises are no reflection of a drop in clinical standards which remain high.’

The Government is set to reimburse GPs for inflation to indemnity costs from April 2017 amid fears it is putting too much pressure on practices. It will also repeat its winter scheme to reimburse the increase in costs for working out of hours.

Meanwhile, Pulse revealed this week that the UK’s three medical defence organisations have boosted income for their top executives by hundreds of thousands of pounds in the past three years.