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A third of GPs considering quitting over indemnity fee rises

A third (32%) GPs are thinking of leaving the profession or retiring because they cannot afford the increased cost of indemnity, a survey has found.

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) found this rose to 41% if the cost of premiums keeps going up at the current rate of 10% a year.

The survey of 846 GPs further found that many had already been forced to quit working out of hours due to costly indemnity.

Survey findings included:

  • 38% of GPs who responded had given up certain work, such as out-of-hours sessions, or reduced the amount they work because of the cost of indemnity;
  • 45% had reduced other outgoings; and
  • just 5% say they haven’t been affected by the increased cost of indemnity.

Comments from GP respondents included: ‘I just despair. Does anyone really care for our patients and the NHS?’

‘The costs are already crippling, not only will current GPs struggle to afford any increase but it is a negative incentive to recruiting young doctors into general practice, at a time we are already struggling with recruitment.’

’The Government must support general practice or the NHS will fail.’

‘The public need to know that the cost of indemnity will take money away from provision of care.’

MDU chief executive Dr Christine Tomkins said: ‘The spiralling cost of indemnity is the final straw for some GPs.

‘Our survey reveals that many of them, and not just of retiring age, are considering quitting the profession. Even newly-qualified doctors say they are thinking of a career change.

‘If a third of the GP workforce leaves the profession it will be really devastating for patients and for the NHS.’

She urged the new Government to ‘act quickly by providing financial support to GPs that protects them from a massive rise in indemnity costs’.

She added: ‘If GPs aren’t supported, many won’t be able to pay and there will be a crisis in general practice which would leave patients at risk.’

The Government is distributing £30m over two years to GP practices to cover the cost of rising indemnity fees. However, at the same time, defence organisations are warning of further increases to costs from rising litigation as well as increased payouts.

Dr Tomkins said: ‘Before the election, the Government pledged that the Department of Health would ‘work closely with GPs and the medical defence organisations to ensure appropriate funding is available’ to meet GPs’ additional indemnity costs.

‘This pledge must now be honoured.’

It comes as the Medical Protection Society launched a campaign last week to bring down the cost of GP indemnity by targeting the cost of litigation to the NHS as a whole.