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GPs should contact MPs to demand support on indemnity crisis, says MDU

GPs should write to their MPs about the impact the indemnity crisis is having on general practice and patients, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) has said.

The MDU has written to all its GP members in England, asking them to contact their MP to demand clarity from the Government on what support it will provide the profession with indemnity costs.

The defence body said they were seeing large claims against doctors based on changes made to the ’discount rate’ in January – changes that have recently been reversed by the Government due to concerns that they would have made general practice ‘untenable’.

In the letter to MDU GP members, Dr Christine Tomkins, MDU chief executive, said: ’The MDU’s Save General Practice campaign highlighted to Government the disastrous effect the reduction in the discount rate (the mechanism courts use to calculate the size of lump sum compensation payable to claimants) would have on GP subscriptions.

’We made it clear that unless the Government supported GPs financially with the inevitable cost consequences, many GPs would be driven out of practice and young doctors put off general practice as a career.’

She quoted a survey of 900 GPs, that found that unaffordable indemnity costs could force them to retire early or cut back on sessions.

Dr Tomkins added: ’We appreciate the lengthy consideration the Department of Health has given to this crucial issue, but now that Parliament has returned, ministers must act decisively to give GPs the support they have long promised but not yet delivered. The crisis in general practice needs solving before it is too late – we are calling on ministers to act now.’

Pulse delivered a letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt last month signed by over 300 GPs describing how indemnity costs are ‘killing’ general practice.

GP leaders had warned earlier this year that expected hikes in indemnity costs could make general practice ‘untenable’, following a change last February in the ‘discount rate’ that calculates the size of compensation claims.

This change meant victims may receive double the amount in compensation, resulting in huge increases in indemnity premiums.

An average GP pays around £8,000 a year in indemnity costs, a sum which is helping drive GPs from the profession and putting patients at risk, according to recent reports.