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MDU takes legal action against Government over state-backed GP indemnity scheme

The Government is facing legal action from a medical defence organisation over the failure of the new NHS indemnity scheme to cover GPs for incidents from before the scheme was introduced.

The Medical Defence Union said it is a ‘concern’ that many English GPs do not have cover for these existing liabilities and as a result the body is taking legal action against the Department of Health and Social Care.

But the BMA, which helped to negotiate the new NHS clinical negligence scheme for general practice, has assured GPs they will remain ‘fully covered both historically and going forwards’.

The state-backed scheme, which came into effect on 1 April, covers all future clinical negligence claims – those occurring from 1 April onwards – for NHS work.

Any claims relating to incidents before 1 April will be dealt with by medical defence organisations.

A spokesperson for the MDU told Pulse that GP members of its scheme should continue to report cases to the MDU, who will support any claims.

In a statement, MDU chief executive Dr Christine Tomkins said: ‘Following pressure from the MDU and others, state indemnity for general practice (CNSGP) was launched on 1 April for future claims arising from incidents on or after that date. Regrettably it does not address liabilities arising from incidents before that date for the great majority of English GPs.

‘Despite lengthy discussions ahead of the introduction of the CNSGP, the Department of Health and Social Care proposed no scheme that would be acceptable for the MDU’s GP members’ existing liabilities.’

She added: ‘It is a concern that so many GPs do not have state indemnity in place for their existing liabilities and we decided to take legal action against DHSC on behalf of our GP and other members. The fact of legal action should not preclude sensible discussions. Our preferred option remains an agreed solution that makes good on the Government’s promise to protect GPs from the rising cost of claims.

‘We cannot discuss any of the detail but wish to reassure members that we remain active on their behalf.’

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘The introduction of the state-backed indemnity scheme in April, negotiated by the BMA as part of the five-year GP contract deal, was a huge step forward for hard-working GPs, and will save them thousands of pounds a year.

‘GPs will be understandably concerned about the legal dispute between their MDO and the Department of Health and Social Care. It is disappointing to see this happening.

‘The BMA continues to engage with all parties on indemnity issues and we would urge those in dispute to resolve these differences relating to existing liabilities through discussion and mutual agreement. All GPs can be confident that they remain fully covered both historically and going forwards.’

This week the MDU also raised concerns that GPs with clinical negligence claims made against them under the new state-backed scheme could see their information passed on to the GMC or NHS England.