Exclusive The first new medical defence organisation to launch in 100 years says it will be able to offer ‘almost all’ GPs lower indemnity fees.
The new not-for-profit organisation, which has been launched by a group of GPs in England, said this is because it will focus exclusively on general practice, allowing no other healthcare professionals to make use of the service.
The Medical Defense Society (MDS), which launched this month, said it has partnered with lawyers and medico-legal experts to offer litigation advice, human resources, legal employment advice and training among its services.
MDS CEO Rohan Simon told Pulse that the intention behind the new organisation was to reduce costs to GPs for taking out professional indemnity.
According to Mr Simon, MDS was the first ever indemnity organisation created exclusively for GPs and has had over 100 enquiries from GPs already, including 20 applications to join.
He said: ‘The intention is to offer indemnity fees which are competitively priced. We believe that in almost all cases the indemnity fees will be lower than what GPs currently pay out however, each application will be carefully considered and the fees will depend on individual GP circumstances.’
The news comes as average GP indemnity costs have been increasing by an official 10% annually, with Pulse being told of 25% year-on-year increases, due to rising number of claims and rising costs of claims payouts.
It also comes as MDOs have warned that costs are due to rise even further, due to the recent decision to reduce the discount rate, leading immediately to higher claims payouts in the case of lifetime compensation awards.
Acting BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It’s for individual doctors to decide which MDO they use but they need to ensure that they are fully covered at all times.’
GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones added: ‘Any new entrant to the market creates competition which is a good thing, however without seeing their policy documents I couldn’t say whether what they offer is any better or worse than what is already available in the market.
‘GPs need to organise the right indemnity for themselves. The GPC in England and Wales is working on a long term solution to the problem of GP indemnity.’
In response to the ‘urgent’ situation, the BMA’s GP Committee has said it is in talks with the Government to increase a promised £60m fund to cover indemnity inflation during this year and next.
NHS England, the Department of Health, 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.
In the interim, the DH has pledged GP indemnity inflation will be covered in the short term, however despite this has not pledged to increase the £60m two-year compensation fund.
Last week, Pulse revealed that GP leaders said ‘everything is on the table’ for the future of GP indemnity, including a fully state-funded scheme.
The existing MDOs are campaigning for legal reforms to bring down the costs, including MPS last month launching a bid for nine far-ranging litigation reforms.
Meanwhile, the DH has yet to respond to a consultation on plans to cap the fees lawyers can claim in negligence claims cases worth up to £25,000.