Government could unveil detail of state-backed indemnity deal 'within weeks'

Details of the state-backed GP indemnity scheme that will take effect from April 2019 could be revealed within weeks, according to a BMA update that confirms some GPs could receive a partial rebate on fees.

Parliament (Photo: Haymarket/Julian Dodd)
Parliament (Photo: Haymarket/Julian Dodd)

The BMA says that medical defence organisations have agreed to reimburse GPs who have paid for a full year's indemnity in advance if the state scheme takes effect before the year of cover is complete.

An update published on the BMA website says: 'We expect the government to make a more detailed statement in the coming weeks. The GPC continues to emphasise that clarity and detail is fundamental for the profession.'

GPonline revealed earlier this year that the government failed to provide an update on how the indemnity scheme would work in May as it had promised.

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In charts: Why GPs need state-backed indemnity

With just over six months to go until the state-backed indemnity scheme is due to take effect, GPs have yet to see almost any detail beyond what then-health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the profession when the plans were first announced in October 2017.

GPs report feeling more positive about the future of the profession since hearing that state indemnity would take effect from April 2019 - but doctors and defence organisations have condemned the lack of detail on how it will work.

MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny said earlier this month: 'We share the frustration of many in the profession with the paucity of detail provided about future plans and the refusal to consult properly on them if and when they do emerge.'

Defence organisations are currently involved in key talks with officials that could decide whether thousands of GPs who have switched to a cheaper 'claims-made' indemnity package offered by the MDU will face additional costs in years to come.

State-backed GP indemnity

The BMA update reiterates outline details of the state-backed indemnity scheme first made public when Mr Hunt unveiled the proposal last year.

It says state-backed GP indemnity will cover 'all NHS commissioned work' for partners, salaried, locum and out-of-hours GPs and all other members of the practice team.

The BMA also reiterates that doctors will need to retain MDO cover - as hospital doctors currently do - for private practice and chargeable services, as well as for GMC hearings and criminal cases.

'The scope of the state-backed scheme is to cover the cost of clinical negligence for NHS services,' the BMA guidance confirms. 'The MDOs will continue to play an important role in providing legal advice, representation for GMC hearings and also for the rare occasion where a criminal case occurs. Similar to hospital colleagues, it will be essential to maintain such medical indemnity.'

Medical Protection Society chief executive Simon Kayll confirmed that although GPs would need to continue to pay for some cover as hospital doctors currently do, the costs would be significantly lower.

'The potential cost of clinical negligence claims accounts for a significant amount of the membership subscription they currently pay,' he said. 'Removing or reducing the indemnity component when they move to the state-backed scheme will therefore reduce the cost of their membership subscription.'

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