Dr Charlotte Jones: Indemnity crisis has pushed GPs to brink of collapse

Indemnity costs are now a key factor dictating where and how GPs work, says Dr Charlotte Jones. As GPonline publishes poll findings revealing the impact of soaring fees, she warns the crisis has pushed general practice to the brink of collapse.

The results of today’s GPonline poll into grassroots GPs' views on indemnity demonstrate why this issue has become one of the main concerns for everyone working in the profession. From my experience, it consistently appears as one of the key factors influencing how and where a GP decides to work.

The recent changes to the discount rate have increased those concerns further and, without being accused of shroud waving, unless there is an urgent and effective solution found, then there is likely to be a complete collapse in GP services.

Solutions implemented to date have been inadequate for the needs of the workforce and some have had unintended consequences that add further pressure on already overstretched GP services. This includes doctors holding off booking usual or additional out-of-hours shifts while awaiting information on the winter indemnity scheme or GPs cancelling out-of-hours shifts to work in 111 call centres instead.

GP indemnity

And of course the indemnity negotiations for GMS practices essentially excluded sessional doctors, which is not an acceptable situation. What is clear though is that all sides involved in negotiating and providing GP services are aware of the urgent need to find a long-term, permanent solution for all GPs to solve these problems.

For its part, the GPC continues to highlight the need to think wider than just doctors, as our allied healthcare professionals are also noticing steep rises in indemnity payments. These increases must be covered given the ever-increasing emergence of new models of care which will inevitably create further rises in indemnity subscriptions for these professionals. And we must ensure that any rises to practice or an organisation's vicarious liability will be covered too.

In all four nations the BMA is working very hard to ensure that clear professional advice is given at the highest levels. We are confident that the issues are heard and that they are finally beginning to be understood. We now need to see a robust solution urgently put in place by the government – and we are pressing for this approach to be implemented as soon as possible.

  • Dr Charlotte Jones is a GPC/BMA lead on indemnity and GPC Wales chair

More on GPonline's indemnity investigation

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