GPs fear swine flu raises risk of being sued

Some GPs may refuse to work if the swine flu virus spreads across the UK for fear of legal action, the BMA has warned.

Photograph: Istock
Photograph: Istock

GPs have expressed concerns that they may be sued for the care they provide if infections become widespread.

Dr Dean Marshall, a BMA negotiator on pandemic flu planning, told the BBC: ‘Doctors will be putting their lives on the line and it is only right they can feel assured they are properly covered if anything goes wrong.’

Dr Marshall added: ‘The problem is that the current cover expects GPs to act in a certain way.

‘For example, if someone has a heart attack we should send them to hospital, but during the pandemic hospitals could be full and this may not be possible. Our fear is that later on people may sue us.’

At last weeks annual LMCs conference, Gwent LMC proposed a supplementary motion, which was not debated, that the conference demands the government offer crown indemnity, where the NHS would pay out any compensation, to GPs following algorithms to deliver the care in the event of a flu pandemic.

GPs also fear that if they were to die on a non-work day, their families would not be entitled to death-in-service payment.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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