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Medical negligence claims against GPs at ‘all time high’

GPs are finding themselves at the centre of more medical negligence claims than ever before, according to new data from medical defence experts.

The Medical Defence Union's annual report for 2011 shows disciplinary cases against GPs and hospital doctors increased by 56% since last year, with the union opening 17% more medical claims files and seeing an 18% rise in requests for assistance with GMC investigations.

The MDU said: 'The medico-legal challenges faced by doctors are unmatched in the company's 126-year history.'

It said it expected the numbers to grow with the introduction of revalidation later this year, and GP practices having to adhere to registration with the Care Quality Commission from 2013.

Dr Christine Tomkins, MDU chief executive, said: ‘Our members are turning to us for support and advice at a time of unprecedented change in both the medicolegal climate and their working environment.

‘There has been a sharp increase in the number of complaints to the GMC, though there is no evidence of a drop in professional standards. The number and cost of negligence claims against doctors is also rising.'

The MDU also reported that 30,000 of its members contacted its 24-hour helplines last year for expert medico- and dentolegal advice.