The health secretary will today announce plans for a new ‘state-backed’ indemnity scheme for GP practices that will see them paying a membership fee to have their fees covered.
As Pulse reported this week, Jeremy Hunt will tell delegates at today’s RCGP Conference in Liverpool that he is discussing plans to include the option of a new membership scheme into the 2018/19 GP contract.
Pulse understands that details around the cost of the scheme for practices and who it will cover are still being worked out.
It follows pressure from the profession and Pulse to tackle the problem of rising indemnity fees.
GP leaders gave the announcement a cautious welcome, but said more details on funding and who it will cover was needed.
The BMA’s GP Committee warned earlier this year that rising indemnity costs were set to make the profession ‘untenable’, especially with potential changes to the size of compensation payouts.
But in a statement today, the DH said that it is looking at a ‘long-term solution’.
It said: ‘The health secretary is also expected to signal plans for a new state-backed scheme for clinical negligence indemnity for general practice in England, providing a long-term solution to the increasing fees which are forcing doctors out of the profession.
‘While in recent years NHS England has protected GPs against the rising value of claims, the average GP now pays around £8,000 a year on their clinical indemnity cover. Alongside HM Treasury, the Department of Health will work with the GPC, the RCGP and the four medical defence organisations on the best way forward.’
Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, said: ’It is encouraging that the secretary of state has recognised this unacceptable financial burden being placed on GPs. Average indemnity costs have risen by more than 50% between 2010 and 2016. There is clear evidence from a recent NHS England survey that this is reducing GPs willingness to work, for example, in out-of-hours settings where the average annual indemnity rise is around 20%.
’It is vital that every GP has this form of insurance, but they should not be expected to be in a system where they are facing inflated yearly increases, especially at a time when many GPs are working increasing numbers of hours to provide care to patients. The commitment to provide state-backed indemnity cover is a particularly welcome step after the talks the government has being having directly with the BMA over the summer. We do, however, need more detail on the financing of this scheme and it must cover all GPs whether they are a partner, salaried, locum, prison or other GP. It is also important we make progress quickly and deliver real change.’
Mr Hunt is due to give his speech this morning.
The speech will also announce plans to extend the £20,000 ‘golden hello’ scheme, incentives for medical schools to produce more GPs and regulation of physician associates.
We’ll have more developing on this story throughout the day on PulseToday