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MDOs to refund GPs thousands of pounds due to state-backed indemnity scheme

Medical defence organisations will partially refund GPs for subscription fees they have already paid this year, due to the introduction of the Government-backed indemnity scheme next month.

The NHS indemnity scheme for GPs, which will be implemented from 1 April, will cover all future clinical negligence claims for NHS work – but GPs are still advised to maintain membership with an MDO for claims that fall outside of the scheme, such as for private work.

MDOs have previously said they will reduce annual fees when GPs come to renew their membership because they will no longer be providing cover for NHS work.

But the defence organisations have now confirmed they will also be refunding some of the fees GPs had already paid this year to cover them beyond April – in some cases more than £2,000, for Medical Protection Society members.

Meanwhile, the Medical Defence Union – which already reduced its membership fees by half in 2017 when the NHS scheme was announced – has revealed it will cut its membership fees further so they are around 85% less than the amount paid in 2017.

And the MDDUS said some GPs will see their annual subscription fees fall by 90%.

According to the MPS, GPs who have paid their annual subscription in full (£8,000) in August 2018 will be reimbursed £2,400 in April to adjust their payment.

MPS chief executive Simon Kayll said:Most members can expect to receive a significant reduction and in some cases they may be eligible for a partial refund on their current year’s subscription.

’A GP’s subscription will depend on a number of factors including the amount of private or fee paying work they undertake and the number of sessions they work. As an illustration, a GP working eight sessions can expect their subscription to be less than £800. This subscription includes advice and support with medicolegal issues from their NHS and private work as well as our 24 hour medicolegal advice line and risk management support.’

Mr Kayll pointed out that MPS members carrying out ‘fee paying or private work they would need to add protection for any claims that may arise from this activity’.

‘The cost of this additional claims protection is dependent on their earnings from private or fee paying work,’ he said. 

‘GPs can earn up to £2,500 from standard GP fee paying work for a subscription cost of £90. We expect that this will be adequate for many MPS members,’ he added.

The MDDUS also confirmed to Pulse that some GPs will be eligible for a partial refund, but could not provide figures as the ’subscription reflects the GP’s individual circumstances’.

MDDUS chief executive officer Chris Kenny said: ’As our GP members require benefits for fewer services and a much lower risk it is inevitable that their fees will reflect that change.

’In some cases, GP members will be paying approximately 10% of their previous amount to continue their membership with our new product. Fees will reflect individual circumstances and the level of cover required for the services the GP is providing.’

An MDU spokesperson said: ’NHS GP members working in England and Wales can expect to benefit from very significantly reduced subscriptions with the introduction of state-indemnity for NHS claims, even compared to the MDU’s previous Transitional Benefits rates which themselves around 50% below our previous occurrence rates.’

’Our new subscriptions are typically 80-85% below the subscriptions in place in 2017 when state indemnity was announced.

The Department of Health and Social Care announced the state-backed scheme in October 2017 after acknowledging the cost of medical negligence cover was affecting GPs’ ability to work. Then health secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the time that it will be ‘more affordable and reliable’.

It followed pressure from the profession and Pulse who argued that indemnity costs were ‘killing’ general practice.

Last month, the Government revealed plans to overhaul clinical negligence cover for claims that fall outside of the new NHS indemnity scheme. It said it wants to see new rules brought in that mean MDOs are contractually obligated to take on cases – instead of the current situation where they can refuse to do so under certain circumstances.

In response, MDOs warned the proposals will increase costs ‘substantially’ for GPs.