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Recruiter offering to provide indemnity for locums turned down by MDOs

Exclusive A major GP recruitment firm is offering to provide indemnity cover for GPs who have been turned down by medical defence organisations after going through GMC remediation.

Primary Care People (PCP) is offering to take out and cover the full cost of indemnity for GPs locuming on behalf of the company.

It said this comes after striking a deal with insurance broker Medical Insurance Advisory Bureau.

CEO Tawhid Juneja said PCP set up the scheme in response to the ‘madness’ of GPs being eligible for work but being prevented from doing so because they cannot get indemnity cover.

He said: ‘Medical defence organisations operate with the lowest possible level of risks and many GPs are struggling to get MDO memberships because of these restrictions.

‘[That is why] we have sourced our own indemnity insurance policy which offers in-hours and out-of-hours cover for our GP candidates.

‘We finance the policy completely and leave our GPs free from the worry of having to pay astronomical fees.’

He acknowledged that it was ‘essential’ for regulatory bodies to ‘ensure health professionals are suitable to practise’ but that PCP has found GPs subjected to GMC scrutiny because of minor mistakes, or because they suffered from illness, were facing similar hurdles as those investigated for very serious mistakes or criminal misconduct.

He told Pulse: ‘We are working with the healthcare sector to get as many of the affected GPs back into work.’

Mr Juneja said that unlike some other private indemnity schemes theirs includes ‘run-off’ cover for GPs should a claim be brought after they have stopped working for the company.

But the GPC urged caution, saying all GPs have to ‘understand the complex issues around indemnity so that they are confident that the indemnity they have will cover them in the event of any clinical complaint, professional investigation or criminal investigation’.

GPC lead on indemnity Dr Charlotte Jones said: ‘GPC is currently updating its guidance following the entrance of new providers to the market and this should be ready soon.’

GP charity the Cameron Fund, which supports GPs in financial difficulty, said that doctors being ‘locked out of general practice’ because of indemnity issues was ‘a growing problem’ for GPs who return from a GMC suspension – even when this was not related to a clinical issue.

Chief executive David Harris said the charity could not endorse the scheme as ‘a perfect option’ but ‘would inform our beneficiaries of [its] existence’.

He said options for doctors in this situation were limited.

‘Working in A&E, where the insurance policy is covered by the NHS trust, is a possibility. But there are some people who are locked out of general practice,’ he said.

This is not the first scheme by PCP to try to overcome the struggles caused by a lack of GP workforce in the UK.

It has previously targeted GPs for employment who were coming back through remediation processes following mental health issues.

And, as revealed by Pulse, it is also working on a programme to train up European GPs to work in the NHS.

The issue of GP indemnity

MDOs are pointing to 10% year-on-year rises in claims against GPs as the cause behind rising cost of cover.

The Government has acknowledged the more litigious NHS environment and is looking at longer term solutions.

Health professionals deemed to come with a higher risk of claims have struggled with cover, while MDO members have spoken of hikes in annual fees of more than a quarter.

Until a long-term solution can be fund – one option for which is to cap the size of claim payouts and legal fees – the Government has put in place two short-term measures.

It is repeating the winter scheme whereby hikes in indemnity for taking on extra out-of-hours shifts are covered and has also said it will reimburse practices for any rise in indemnity costs next year.