The ‘state-backed’ indemnity scheme will be open to all GPs, including locums and sessional work, for all NHS work, the health secretary has announced.
The scheme will be available in April 2019, health secretary Jeremy Hunt told delegates at today’s RCGP Conference in Liverpool, alongside an announcement that he was expanding the £20,000 ‘golden hello’ scheme and was looking into regulating physician associates.
He added that it will be available to locums and sessional GPs, but stopped short of promising it would be for all practice staff.
Pulse had previously reported that the scheme would cover all practice staff, but Mr Hunt said this was not the case.
He was asked by Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, whether the scheme would include all practice staff and locums.
Mr Hunt replied: ‘I can give the commitment it will be for doctors working in general practice. The wider commitments, I would love to be able to give you, but I don’t know the answers. I don’t want to promise something I will have to retract later.’
Earlier in his speech, he had said the scheme ’will take time to introduce’.
He said: ’It will take us 18 months. We need to negotiate with the BMA and the medical defence organisations. It will be introduced in this year’s contract discussions.
’It will be more affordadle and reliable for you. We’ll have control of variables that makes indemnity fees fluctuate… I hope this will give some stability.’
The announcement of the scheme follows pressure from the profession and Pulse to tackle the problem of rising indemnity fees.
GP leaders gave the announcement a cautious welcome, but said more details on funding and who it will cover was needed.
The BMA’s GP Committee warned earlier this year that rising indemnity costs were set to make the profession ‘untenable’, especially with potential changes to the size of compensation payouts.
But in a statement today, the DH said that it is looking at a ‘long-term solution’.
It said: ‘The Government is planning to develop a state-backed indemnity scheme for GPs, to protect them from the costs of clinical negligence claims, subject to further work on relevant issues.
’Our ambition is to provide a more stable and affordable system for GPs. The scheme could provide financially sustainable cover for claims arising from the delivery of NHS services.’
Please note – this article was amended at 11:55 on Thursday 12 Octboer. It previously stated that the GPC said it would cover all practice staff. However, Mr Hunt said this was not necessarily the case