Moves by the Scottish Government to introduce a Damages Bill in the next 12 months could help bring ‘some predictability’ into indemnity rates, a leading medical insurer has said.
Chris Kenny, chief executive of the MDDUS, said he hoped the introduction of the Damages Bill would clarify the system for setting the discount rate.
‘We are quite pleased that Scotland has said they are going to legislate on this and hopefully it will speed up the UK Government to look at it too.’
He added that knowing how often the rate would be adjusted and how the formula was calculated would enable idemnifiers to take a more ‘forward looking view’.
The bill was announced as part of the Scottish Governments legislative programme for the next year.
‘This is a positive first step but we would wish to see the Scottish Government move forward on defining the actual level of the discount rate and not just the system for setting it.’
In March, Scottish ministers followed the lead of England in changing the discount rate from 2.5% to minus 0.75%.
The potentially large increase in medical compensation payouts has led to fears of cripplingly high indemnity costs for GPs.
In England the Department of Health has said it would make funding available to GPs should indemnity fees increase.
There has as yet been no such promise from Scotland although indemnity is one of the issues being discussed as part of new contract negotiations.
It is not yet known if there will be any steps taken in the Damages Bill to minimise the impact of increasing indemnity fees.