MDU provides more detail on its plans to cut subscription rates

Dr Matthew Lee, MDU professional services director, explains how the MDU plans to roll out cuts to members' medical indemnity subscriptions, ahead of the introduction of a state-backed indemnity scheme.

Matthew Lee, MDU head of professional services
Matthew Lee, MDU head of professional services

As a GP, you won’t have failed to notice that indemnity costs have been increasing at a rate that has made them unaffordable for many.

This is due to a deteriorating medico-legal climate, with spiralling medical claims costs, made worse by a decision to change the rate used to calculate the size of lump sum compensation awards earlier this year. This doubled the cost of GP compensation claims overnight.

The MDU

Following the announcement by Jeremy Hunt that the government intends to develop a state-backed indemnity scheme for primary care, MDU membership benefits for GPs working under an NHS England contract will change to ‘Transitional Benefits’. Find more details here.

This article is funded by the MDU for GP Connect

We know this has been putting a great strain on our members with 95% of over 900 GPs responding to an MDU survey on indemnity saying they been personally affected by increasing indemnity costs. Around a third also told us they were thinking of leaving the profession or retiring because of the costs of indemnity. Many GPs have supported our Save General Practice campaign which has been instrumental in highlighting the indemnity crisis to the Department of Health and NHS England.

The good news is that the government has taken notice.

The MDU is a not-for-profit, member-owned, mutual and as such, we aim to collect the right subscriptions from our members to meet the expected cost of future claims. No more, no less.

Following Jeremy Hunt’s announcement of a planned state backed scheme to cover GP claims arising from work under an NHS England primary care contract, we will be reducing our English GP subscriptions in the expectation that claims will start to pass to the scheme once launched.

Given the pressure on GPs to meet escalating indemnity fees, the significant reduction MDU GP members will see in their indemnity costs from their next renewal will come as welcome news.

Reduced subscriptions

From each member’s first renewal from 1 November 2017, we will be reducing indemnity subscriptions for GP/primary care work undertaken under an NHS England contract by around 50%.

GPs and practice staff working under an NHS England contract, can access new transitional benefits of MDU membership, providing them with access to indemnity for clinical negligence claims at a substantially reduced subscription.

The MDU’s new benefits will apply to all NHS primary care work carried out in England, either by the partner in the practice, employed or locum GPs or any other member employed by the practice, such as practice managers, nurses and paramedics.

Members renewing or joining the MDU from 1 November 2017 will move to transitional benefits, which can provide the indemnity needed until a government-backed scheme is introduced.

GPs and primary care staff in the scheme can receive assistance and indemnity for claims arising from incidents, which happened during their transitional benefits membership period while they remain an active paying member.

The reduced subscriptions are available in the expectation that members remain with the MDU until the government scheme launches at which point their liabilities relating to this transitional period will pass in to the scheme. Members who retire or leave in this transitional period will, therefore, need to apply for extended benefit rights in order to continue to report new claims and to have access to assistance with claims already made arising from incidents occurring during this transitional period.

Members retiring at or after the normal retirement age for their NHS pension scheme will not be charged for extended benefit rights but those who choose to leave for other reasons will need to purchase extended benefit rights on an annual basis until such time as a state-backed scheme is introduced.

The likely cost of extended benefit rights during the first year of transitional benefits will be between £800 and £1,500 for GPs depending on the type of work the member has been doing and would be less for most other practice staff (where these staff have individual membership of the MDU).  This may increase during a second year if the launch of the state backed scheme is delayed. 

The MDU will continue to support all GP members with other medico-legal issues such as assistance with the GMC, criminal investigations, inquests or disciplinary hearings on its traditional ‘life-long’ basis, regardless of whether this work is under an NHS England contract or not.

MDU GP members working in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Channel Islands are not affected by the change.

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