The MDU has called for a ‘radical intervention’ from the Treasury to address the ‘clinical negligence crisis’ and ‘provide respite for GPs from indemnity costs’.
The defence organisation’s call, ahead of the budget and Autumn Statement, asks the Treasury to prioritise legal reforms to reduce the costs of clinical negligence claims.
The MDU wants the Government to repeal S2(4) of the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act, which dates from 1948 and means that compensation is calculated on the basis of private rather than NHS care.
It is also asking the Government to allow defendants such as medical defence organisations to buy defined local authority and NHS care packages that meet the reasonable needs of patients, rather than having to fund them privately.
Dr Michael Devlin, MDU head of professional standards and liaison, said the call comes as clinical negligence claims inflation has been rising steadily by 10% a year for several years, and as the MDU alone has ‘paid out over £100 million for high value claims over £1 million involving GPs and private practitioners’.
He said this ‘clinical negligence crisis’ is ‘putting a strain on the NHS by diverting funds that should be used for all NHS patients to the independent sector’.
Dr Devlin said: ‘The toxic claims climate is also affecting GPs directly as their indemnity subscriptions are increasing at rates higher than wage or house inflation. We understand GPs’ frustration as they are not responsible for the rising costs of claims and have no control over them.
‘Rising claims costs will not go away and are only going to get much worse. Something must be done to relieve the pressure on GPs and the wider health service. The reforms we advocate would see patients compensated appropriately but in a fairer and more affordable way.’
Research has shown that rising indemnity fees are a ‘main barrier’ to improving general practice and NHS England has announced plans to subsidise GP indemnity costs with a £60m support scheme from April 2017, which will reimburse GPs for the average increase in indemnity costs.
Pulse has also reported that the salaries of the chief executives of the three main UK medical defence organisations has risen over the past three years, as indemnity costs for GPs increased by 26% in 2015.