Christmas came early this year. Or rather, Christmas Eve did. Because we had the night-before-RCGP conference leak that Jeremy Hunt was about to announce a gift-wrapped indemnity scheme for GPs.
And, yes, when the big day came – with Jezza’s generous pressie followed immediately by the MDU’s goodwill-to-all-GPs gesture (OK, goodwill-to-all-MDU members) of slashing their fees – it did, just for a moment, convince us that Santa is real and living in Richmond House.
As it turns out, though, this particular gift has unravelled quicker than an unwanted Christmas jumper from a demented aunt. The clues were there, of course: a government backed scheme that would be ‘affordable’ rather than a freebie; a lack of clarity over who and what it would include, exactly; and great confusion, claims and counter-claims about run-off cover.
So now, not only do we have a scheme which seems to have been scribbled on the back of an envelope, that envelope has been eaten by a dog for breakfast. When you try to piece the bits back together, you’re left with something that may involve extra payment for non-negligence protection, fees for any phase of run-off liability, plus whatever the government’s shiny new indemnity package will actually cost which, according to latest reports, may make our eyes water with pain rather than gratitude.
In other words, thanks, Jezza, it’s just what we never wanted.
At least if Christmas didn’t really come early, then Guy Fawkes’ night is bang on time. And no prizes for guessing whose effigy will be going on the bonfire.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex