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DH now says indemnity scheme will cover all practice staff



The state-backed indemnity scheme announced by Jeremy Hunt last week is intended to apply to practice staff as well as GPs, the DH has confirmed.

The Department of Health has published a fact sheet that provided more details on how it intends for the scheme to function, in addition to the details the secretary of state was able to give on stage at the RCGP Annual Conference last week.

Critically it suggests that practice staff are expected to be covered in the scheme when Mr Hunt said at this stage he was only confident in saying it would cover ‘all doctors in general practice’.

Other key details include:

  • The suggestion that it would be a practice policy, providing cover to ‘providers of GP services (e.g. GP contractors)’ and out-of-hours provider;
  • This would ‘include the activities of practice staff’ working in the delivery of GMS, PMS and APMS services;
  • It would only provide ‘clinical negligence’ cover. GPs would want their own indemnity for professional and regulatory issues such as GMC proceedings and coroners’ courts;
  • A decision is yet to be made on whether the scheme could be extended to GPs in prison health or armed forces;
  • DH wants a scheme in place ‘as quickly as possible’ but it is likely to take 12 to 18 months.

In his announcement to the RCGP conference, Mr Hunt said it would cover ‘all GPs for all NHS work’ but stopped short of including practice staff as he didn’t want to misspeak and u-turn later.

However the fact sheet published by the DH after his speech does confirm that this is its intended ambition.

It says: ’We envisage the scheme would provide clinical negligence cover to providers of GP services (e.g. GP contractors OOH providers of GP services) through which the activities of individual GPs would be covered.

‘It would be available to all contractors who provide primary medical services: GMS, PMS and APMS plus any other integrated urgent care delivered through NHS Standard Contracts.

‘The cover would include the activities of practice staff including other medical professionals working for the practice in the provision of these contracted services, and students/trainees working in this area.’

The suggestion that the scheme would be for contractors providing primary medical services suggests that it would be a policy with partners which covers doctors working for them.

Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, deputy chair of the BMA’s GP Committee and its lead on indemnity, told Pulse: ‘The full extent of the cover will require very careful examination. In essence we want to indemnify all normal GP work but defining that is quite tricky. Even taking the broad stance of all “NHS commissioned services” does not work because most GPs hold public health enhanced services contracts from local authorities. That definition will be very important.

‘I am sure that most GPs will still wish to retain membership of an MDO for non-litigation processes such as GMC hearings etc.’