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#GPnews: New legislation required to bring down clinical negligence bill, say auditors

16:30 Suicide rates recuced in Great Britain last year, according to new Office of National Statistics (ONS) data.

Overall, suicide numbers reduced by 3.4% in 2016, to 5,688 – three quarters of which were male.

The ONS said that since 2015, the English rate has fallen a significant amount, the Welsh rate has fallen slightly and the Scottish rate has risen a small amount.

Persons aged 40 to 44 had the highest age-specific suicide rate at 15.1 per 100,000.

Anyone struggling to cope shoud call Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and Republic of Ireland), email, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of the nearest branch.

GP-specific help is available via the Cameron Fund (for GPs struggling financially) and via the confidential NHS GP Health service.

14:45 Nurse leaders announced at a protest that they will ballot for strike action unless the public sector pay cap is scrapped in time for the next budget, reports Pulse’s sister title Nursing in Practice.

Hundreds of nurses gathered at Parliament Square yesterday to protest the cap on their pay, which the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says is ‘putting patient care at risk’.

In May this year, RCN members voted overwhelmingly to take action on nursing pay and today’s rally was the culmination of the resulting ‘summer of action’.

The RCN’s chair of council Michael Brown told the crowd: ‘I think it is a political decision – the underfunding of the NHS.’

14:10 The Government needs to take ‘a stronger and more integrated approach’ if it is to rein in the increasing cost of clinical negligence claims, according to a report from the National Audit Office.

NAO said this comes as in the past ten years, spending on the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts has quadrupled from £0.4bn in 2006/07 to £1.6bn in 2016/17.

Meanwhile the number of successful clinical negligence claims where damages were awarded more than doubled, from 2,800 to 7,300, it added.

NAO head Amyas Morse warned: ‘The cost of clinical negligence in trusts is significant and rising fast, placing increasing financial pressure on an already stretched system. NHS Resolution and the Department are proposing measures to tackle this, but the expected savings are small compared with the predicted rise in overall costs.

‘At £60bn, up from £51bn last year, the provision for clinical negligence in trusts is one of the biggest liabilities in the Government accounts, and one of the fastest growing. Fundamentally changing the biggest drivers of increasing cost will require significant activity in policy and legislation.’

MPS senior medicolegal adviser Dr Pallavi Bradshaw said: ‘We believe legal reform is needed to help achieve a balance between compensation that is reasonable, but also affordable – both to the NHS and to healthcare professionals who are feeling the pressure of rising clinical negligence costs through their professional protection subscriptions.’

12:50 Prime Minister Theresa May is ‘facing mounting pressure’ from unions and the Labour Party to lift the public sector pay cap, reports the Guardian.

The paper reports that this comes as Ms May told MPs in the House of Commons yesterday that the Government will make a decision on whether to lift the 1% ‘within weeks’.

It points out that this comes as inflation stood at 2.6% in July, leaving public sector workers including doctors and nurses with real-terms pay cuts.

The Scottish Government has announced it will scrap the public sector pay cap, opening the way for a real-terms pay rise for GPs for the first time in many years.

10:15 The BMA has told Pulse that it will push the Government to improve GP conditions in four key areas: indemnity, workforce, workload and premises development.

This is in light of a survey that showed over half of practices are willing to engage in a mass practice list closure action to put pressure on the Department of Health.

Also read the Q&A with BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey, where he outlines what happens next.