Exclusive: Indemnity costs rose more than 20% this year for one in four GPs

More than 90% of GPs say their medical indemnity fees have increased this year - and more than a quarter have seen costs rise by over 20%, a GPonline poll reveals.

One in nine GPs (11%) said their indemnity fees had risen by more than 30% this year, while 18% said their fees had increased by 20-30%, according to responses from 446 GPs.

More than a third of GPs working full time who do not carry out any out-of-hours work or non-standard work such as minor surgery now pay in excess of £10,000 per year for indemnity cover, the poll reveals, and several respondents warned indemnity now swallowed a quarter or more of their take-home pay.

The poll also found that nearly half of GPs planned to quit or had considered quitting the NHS over the rising cost of indemnity. One in 10 GPs said they planned to quit the NHS soon because of indemnity costs, and 41% said they had considered doing so.

GP indemnity crisis

Findings from the GPonline poll published earlier this week exposed the devastating impact that soaring indemnity costs have had on the GP workforce, with three in five GPs forced to reduce the number of clinical sessions they work or to turn down offers of additional work because of their indemnity deals.

As the health service struggles to hit recruitment targets for general practice to bring new GPs into the profession, the poll findings make clear that indemnity costs are dragging down the capacity of the existing workforce.

Writing for GPonline this week, GPC indemnity lead Dr Charlotte Jones warned that 'a complete collapse in GP services' was likely unless an urgent and long-term solution was found to the growing indemnity crisis.

Her warning came just weeks after GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told ministers in one of his first interviews since being elected to succeed Dr Chaand Nagpaul that the 2017/18 winter crisis would be far worse than the last unless GP indemnity costs were tackled.

Take-home pay

GPs responding to the poll revealed that indemnity is swallowing a huge proportion of their income - up to 30% of take-home pay for some doctors.

Scores of GPs responding to the poll said the pace at which costs were increasing was simply unaffordable, with many warning they did not see how the profession could continue to absorb rising costs as workload increased and pay remained static.

One said: 'The fee rises are utterly unsustainable. My fees have risen by nearly 20% in one year. The government has to step in. Out-of-hours work is now no longer an option. We need crown indemnity. We are an affluent nation, doctors are vital for the health of the nation and we are being driven out of practice by these exorbitant fees.'

The 2017/18 GP contract deal secured a £30m fund to cover rising GP indemnity costs, paid to practices on a per patient basis.

The Conservative party pledged in its 2017 election manifesto to ensure ‘appropriate funding for GPs to meet rising costs of indemnity in the short term while working with the profession to introduce a sustainable long-term solution’.

More on GPonline's indemnity investigation

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