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NHS chief pledges ‘very substantial, medium-term GP indemnity solution’



GPs can expect a ‘very substantial medium-term solution’ to the looming indemnity crisis in the ‘not too distant future’, NHS England’s chief executive has said.

Speaking at today’s monthly board meeting, Simon Stevens said this comes as indemnity is ‘one of the big issues affecting the GP workforce.

He did not say anything about exactly when the work, which is being conducted via ‘three-way talks’ with GPs and the Department of Health, would conclude.

Pulse has previously revealed that the prospect of fully funded GP indemnity was ‘on the table’ in these negotiations, which were aiming for a long-term rather than medium-term solution.

Mr Stevens said: ‘We know that for jobbing GPs there are a whole series of workload pressures.

‘But one of the big issues for GPs is the threat of indemnity, rising indemnity costs. There is… a very substantial medium term solution that we are working on intensively with GPs and the Government, and we hope to be able to come to some good conclusions on that in the not too distant future.’

The chair of the BMA’s GP Committee has said previously that indemnity increases this year could make general practice ‘untenable’ and issue in a ‘winter crisis like no winter crisis before’.

Costs this year are set to grow because of a change to the discount rate formula used to calculate compensation claims introduced in March.

Defence organisations have been calling for a long term solution to the spiralling costs in litigation and compensation but this is likely to require legislative changes.

It comes NHS England announced it was doubling the size of the fund to reimburse GPs taking on additional out-of-hours shifts this winter, after failing to deliver a pledged long-term solution.

Mr Stevens said: ‘There’s also an immediate issue over the winter period, and so – today – NHS England is announcing we will invest £10m over the period October through to the end of the financial year for GPs taking on extra out of hours shifts over that winter period.

‘Last year that scheme enabled about 80,000 more GP sessions and we’re hopeful that working with our partners that will be achieved again this year.’

The BMA’s GP Committee told Pulse it continues to ‘push’ the DH on a long-term solution.

The Ministry of Justice announced it would be passing legislation on discount rate reviews, and indemnity provider MDDUS has said it will freeze all GP subscription renewals until summer 2018.

Today, Pulse delivered an open letter to Jeremy Hunt with nearly 400 signatures calling for all GPs ‘regardless of their place of practice’ to have indemnity reimbursed.