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Cost of GP negligence cases ‘increasing by 10% a year’

The compensation giving to patients from GP negligence claims are increasing by 10% a year due to changes that make it easier to take legal action, a medical defence organisation has claimed.

In evidence presented to the Commons health committee inquiry into primary care, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) said that changes to ‘no win no fee’ arrangements in April 2013 led to a 20% increase in claims funded by these arrangements the following year.

It said that the cost of investigating and responding to the increasing number of claims, was being shouldered by its members through their subscriptions.

The body has called for the Government to introduce reforms to the way that compensation is awarded, saying that the current system was unsuitable for GPs and for the NHS more widely.

Dr Michael Devlin, head of professional standards and liaison at the MDU, said: ‘The rise is a result of many factors which GPs can’t influence, yet this is an issue which affects them personally professionally and financially.

‘The great majority of claims against GPs are without merit and the number is rising. Unless the Government takes swift action there is no sign that things will improve.’

The MDU’s highest payment on behalf of a GP was £7.5 million following the missed diagnosis of a subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Rising indemnity costs have seen insurance brokers start to offer indemnity packages to GPs independently of medical defence organisations.

The GPC said last year that one of the factors driving increasing indemnity costs for GPs was the Government’s 7-day working scheme.