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Retired GPs who return to tackle coronavirus will get free indemnity

The Government is to fund indemnity cover for retired doctors who come back to work to boost NHS capacity during the coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic.

The MDDUS said it will also provide indemnity support which falls outside of the state-backed scheme to retired members for free, covering regulatory tribunals, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

The coronavirus indemnity support service will initially be available until August but will stay in place ‘as long as it is needed’, the MDDUS said.

The MDDUS has ‘radically simplified and shortered’ its rejoining process for its 7,000 retired members and added it was ‘exploring’ a similar free support service for its student members, if they are drafted in to help.

The Government first announced last week that it is considering introducing the ‘emergency registration’ of retired doctors as part of its action plan against the virus.

And a minister later said this could also include calling upon medical students.

Dr John Holden, head of medical division at MDDUS, said the organisation wanted to ‘immediately remove all barriers’ to retired members who wish to help tackle the virus.

He said: ‘The NHS is facing its biggest challenge this century and we are determined to play our part in encouraging and enabling health care professionals to manage the threat posed by Covid-19.

‘Medical defence organisations provide their membership with discretionary indemnity.

‘I cannot think of a better way to exercise this discretion than by immediately removing all barriers to retired, and if necessary student, doctors joining the national effort to manage this escalating challenge facing the country.’

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that the clinical negligence scheme for general practice will cover returning retirees if they are engaged by a GP practice to provide NHS services.

It comes as the Government yesterday dedicated an initial £5bn to help the NHS get through the coronavirus outbreak as part of its new Budget.

As of 11 March, 27,476 people have been tested in the UK, of which 27,020 were confirmed negative and 456 were confirmed as positive. Six patients who tested positive for Covid-19 have died.

Note: This story was updated at 15.15 on 12 March to include the DHSC’s confirmation.