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Hundreds of GPs approach new ‘lower cost’ indemnity provider

Hundreds of GPs are considering joining a new medical negligence indemnity scheme that has promised to slash fees.

The start-up Medical Defense Society has handled more than 200 enquiries since its launch last month, in addition to 70 applications.

The MDS is the first new indemnity service in a century and was set up by a group of GPs, alongside lawyers and medico-defence experts.

The GP-exclusive indemnity provider says it wants to ‘help members reduce risk and respond efficiently to any professional difficulties that arise’.

Rohan Simon, the CEO of the fledgling not-for-profit told Pulse that by limiting membership to GPs the MDS could ‘give them a more competitive deal as we don’t have the increased size and frequency and size of claims compared to our secondary care colleagues.’

Mr Simon said: ‘Overall it has been a positive response. We currently have over 70 members with more applications in the pipeline. We are continuing to work hard on building trust, relationships and making a difference. Feedback from members so far has been very positive and encouraging.’

‘Overall, whilst we are pleased with the growth in our membership our main priority will be careful financial and risk management to ensure the long term success of MDS. We are very happy with how things are going. Things are progressing well. I think the response is really encouraging – with a bit of competition in the market.’

The launch came as medical defence organisations are preparing to increase their costs due to the Government’s reduction to the discount rate, leading immediately to higher claims payouts in the case of lifetime compensation awards.

But the Department of Health pledged earlier this month that it would protect GPs from any hikes by increasing existing reimbursement to practices.

NHS England, the DH, the GPC and the three existing MDOs also remain in discussion about how the cost of GP indemnity can be stemmed in the longer term, by reducing the number of claims as well as their cost.

This includes the DH consultation into capping recoverable costs in criminal negligence cases, results of which are still being analysed despite closing in May.

Solving the indemnity cost problem

New GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey has warned that working as a GP would become ‘untenable’ for many as MDOs were expected to raise fees this autumn and many GPs have already reduced their sessions due to soaring legal costs.

Ministers in England made a two-year commitment to bear the cost of any indemnity cover increases for GPs and have indicated this will continue past 2019.

LMC representatives voted in May for GPC to negotiate full reimbursement of indemnity costs for GPs and for any future reimbursement scheme to target individual GPs directly.

Although the push for a long-term solution is taking its time to materialise, the GPC has said that ‘everything is on the table’ in their discussions with the Government, including a state-funded scheme.