NHS England unveils 'immediate action' on GP indemnity costs with £60m fund

NHS England will introduce new funding understood to be worth £60m over two years 'to fully offset the rising cost of GP indemnity' in the short term while it works on wider plans to reform current indemnity arrangements.

Dr Charlotte Jones: welcomed indemnity funding pledge
Dr Charlotte Jones: welcomed indemnity funding pledge

The funding, part of a package launched to ease pressure on general practice, was agreed on Thursday at an NHS England board meeting, which discussed how to implement changes set out in the GP Forward View.

Starting later this year, NHS England will repeat the winter indemnity scheme it ran last year, which offered support for GPs between December 2015 and March 2016.

But the wider intervention being rolled out by NHS England involves a funding package that GPonline understands will be worth £60m over two financial years, with £30m a year invested in 2016/17 and 2017/18.

The funding will be paid out to practices based on list size, and will then be available to support the cost of indemnity for GPs - whether partners or employees GPonline understands.

GP indemnity deal

However, the sum may not make a huge dent in rising indemnity costs for many GPs - with around 7,500 GP practices in England, the average share of the funding pot will be around £4,000 per practice. Funding for 2016/17 will be paid out in arrears from April 2017.

Dr Charlotte Jones, BMA executive team member, said: ‘The increasing costs of indemnity cover is causing concern for all GPs and is starting to have a detrimental impact on most GPs who simply cannot afford to work more sessions or maintain their current working commitments.

‘This announcement today does offer some immediate financial support to practices that is much needed, and is to be welcomed, but we will be examining this in more detail. We do need to find a long-term solution to this issue that is not just a quick fix.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘We want the best working conditions for GPs so that they can provide the best service for patients. We have listened to concerns and know that for GPs, paying rising indemnity fees out of their own pockets feels unfair and unsustainable – so are today committing millions to help.’

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