GPC Scotland hints at 'dramatic change' to stop indemnity costs forcing GPs to quit

GP indemnity arrangements will 'change quite dramatically' in Scotland to tackle the unsustainable rise in costs that is forcing doctors out of the workforce, GP leaders have said.

GPC Scotland chair Dr Alan McDevitt (Photo: Douglas Robertson)
GPC Scotland chair Dr Alan McDevitt (Photo: Douglas Robertson)

GPC Scotland chair Dr Alan McDevitt told the Scottish LMCs conference last week: 'Indemnity is going to change quite dramatically in the future – the current situation is not sustainable.

‘The reasons people aren’t working sometimes is because of indemnity. We have to address that, though I don’t think we have the answers yet.’

He added that the Scottish GPC had ‘been explicit’ with the government that rises in indemnity costs ‘will have to be paid' in the new GP contract for Scotland scheduled to take effect from April 2018, adding that it was ‘not fair or correct’ that GPs should bear the cost.

GP indemnity costs

Delegates at the Scottish LMCs conference spoke of a looming indemnity ‘threat’ to GPs if the country follows England's lead and alters the discount rate applied to personal injury pay-outs.

The discount rate was lowered in England last month from 2.5% to minus 0.75%, which medical defence organisations warned would have a 'catastrophic impact' on GP indemnity costs.

The last time the discount rate was changed in England - in 2001 - Scotland made identical changes just a year later.

Proposing a motion at the conference in Clydebank, near Glasgow, a GP from Grampian said the changes meant that the discount figure ‘no longer represented a discount at all’.

Delegates voted for any increases in indemnity – including those made as a result of changes to the discount rate – to be ‘fully reimbursed’ in the 2018 Scottish contract.

Dr McDevitt told the conference: ‘It’s not as expensive [as England] in Scotland. But we are aware of a potential threat coming through to change indemnity costs and we’ll have to deal with that when we know what it is.’

Motion wording in full:

That this conference, in light of the on-going review of the discount rate used for personal injury awards, insists that the new Scottish GP contract involves full reimbursement of expenses, including any increases in the cost of indemnity which may arise from this review.

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