GPs demand full reimbursement of soaring indemnity costs

The government must offer more than 'drop in the ocean' funding top-ups to cover rising GP indemnity costs and directly reimburse GPs in full, the LMC conference has demanded.

Dr Mary McCarthy: Indemnity costs spiralling out of control (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dr Mary McCarthy: Indemnity costs spiralling out of control (Photo: JH Lancy)

Delegates at the LMC conference 2017 in Edinburgh have approved a motion calling on the GPC to negotiate ‘full reimbursements of all [GP] indemnity costs’ with the government.

LMC backed a motion welcoming the DH decision to cover increases in indemnity costs this year and next year, but said this must go further and be implemented in a fairer way through direct payments to individual doctors.

Proposing the motion on behalf of the LMC conference agenda committee, Dr Rachel McMahon said covering just the increase was ‘a drop in the ocean’.

GP indemnity costs

GPC member Dr Mary McCarthy warned the situation was spiralling out of control. She said she had spoken to colleagues in Europe, where most said their costs were state-paid or came to 1-3% of their income.

A GP working in Portugal told her that their indemnity had risen to €90 (£76) this year.

‘It’s only in the UK where costs are so great that they stop people working,’ she said. ‘If they can do it, why can't we?’

The sessional GP committee’s Dr Preeti Shukla made a rallying call for action. ‘We are being forced out of our profession,’ she told delegates.

‘I think enough is enough. I urge conference that come August – when most of us indemnify ourselves – [we refuse to renew it and] let the system collapse.

‘It’s not a strike so we don’t have to jump through any administrative hoops. We have been propping up broken system for too long I am sick and tired of saying a solution is coming soon.’

Indemnity cover

Her suggestion – not part of the approved motion – was audibly supported by attending GPs.

In a second motion, LMCs called for medical defence organisations (MDOs) to be forced to give reasons when they refuse cover to GPs, adding that an appeals process must be established to ensure GPs involved have right of reply.

It also said that the government must put in place alternative arrangements to cover GPs who are refused by MDOs to avoid losing able doctors from the workforce.

Presenting the motion, Dr Adam Harrison, from Nottinghamshire LMC, said it was currently ‘harder than it has ever been to man the barricades’ in general practice, but this was ‘all the more difficult’ due to MDOs increasingly refusing to renew doctors’ indemnity.

Of several cases in Nottinghamshire, he said he knew of one GP who had elected to move back to Spain after being denied cover, another who had reapplied only to be taken on a significantly higher premium and a third who was now looking to leave the profession completely.

Crown indemnity

‘We cannot accept a situation whereby GPs are refused indemnity and not given any reason to that decision,’ he said.

Leicester LMC’s Dr Anu Rao called for this to go further, and have crown indemnity extended to the profession. She said she could only see two solutions to protect the profession as it currently stands against indemnity.

‘The first solution to make it fair is to allow medical professions to counter sue. Option two would be to allow GP practices to put a disclaimer at their door – "enter at your own risk".

‘If these two are not possible then I would implore GPC to negotiate crown indemnity for all GPs.’

Full coverage of LMC conference 2017

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