Government promises to pay for GP indemnity fee rises

CREDIT: This story was first seen in OnMedica

The Department of Health has promised that GPs can expect to be reimbursed if medical indemnity providers increase their prices over the next few months, OnMedica reports.

Medical indemnity organisations are expected to increase fees due to increasing costs to lifetime payouts in clinical negligence cases, directly linked to the reduction to the discount rate that came in from March this year.

The BMA’s GP Committee has said it is in ‘urgent talks’ with the government about increasing reimbursement, which is £30m for this year, or 52p per patient for each practice. However, in a statement, the Department of Health (DH) said that it will not announce any increase in reimbursement until the medical indemnity organisations actually increase their fees. But when they do rise, a DH spokesperson said funding would be made available.

“The Department of Health will work closely with GPs and medical defence organisations to ensure that appropriate funding is available to meet additional costs to GPs, recognising the crucial role they play in the delivery of NHS care,” a spokesperson said.

Medical indemnity organisations have raised serious concerns about the discount rate changes, which they have said would double the cost of some payouts. But the plans for further reimbursement comes as BMA leaders have condemned the current scheme, which sees practices receiving the top-up funding based on patient list size, for being inequitable.

The Medical Defence Union said that nearly nine out of 10 GPs (88%) of 879 responding to a survey on professional indemnity say they would like to see the NHS funding the cost of GP clinical negligence claims in future by introducing NHS indemnity for primary care rather than have GPs paying for their own indemnity.

An MDU spokesperson said: “GPs continue to practise safely but indemnity costs rises are due to an outdated legal system. The government’s decision to drastically reduce the discount rate used for calculating compensation payments has made matters much worse.

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“The sad fact is that our current subscriptions, while unaffordable for some GPs, do not yet reflect the true cost.

“The MDU has held back from charging the full subscription to take account of the discount rate because the government has since February promised additional funding. We are continuing to discuss this issue with the Department of Health to find a solution.”

A Medical Protection Society spokesperson said: “MPS has not yet made any changes to membership subscriptions for GPs to reflect the reduction in the [discount rate], as any changes will be dependent upon the outcome of our discussions with the government.”

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