Measures to tackle rising costs for GPs will include proposals for providers operating in new models of care to take on corporate indemnity, so that individual GPs no longer have to take out personal cover, and could see a cap on fees claimed by lawyers in clinical negligence cases.
But NHS England's General Practice Forward View document appeared to rule out the move, warning: 'This would mean it is not possible to sue for damages and that the small minority of patients who had suffered harm as a result of clinical negligence would not have recourse to any financial compensation.
'We do not believe that this is the intent of the medical profession and this form of immunity does not apply to other health services.'
The package of measures to support general practice unveiled by NHS England says that with the DH it will set out proposals in July for discussion 'with the profession, medical defence organisations, the commercial insurance industry and the NHS Litigation Authority'.
The plans will consider:
- How personal costs of indemnity and clinical insurance can be contained, provided certain clinical governance standards are met – with the objective of reducing the overall costs to the individual.
- Reducing indemnity costs for individuals in particular circumstances, such as GPs who wish to remain in the workforce on a part-time basis past a certain age.
- Enabling new models of care such as multi-speciality community providers (MCPs) to take on corporate indemnity, freeing up individuals working in those new models from the burden of personal indemnity costs.
The DH will also consult 'shortly' on a 'fixed recoverable cost scheme to cap the level of recoverable costs for claimant lawyers on clinical negligence claims'.
GPonline revealed last year that one in three GPs have seen medical indemnity fees rise 20% in the past five years, and reported on DH plans to impose a £100,000 cap on lawyers' fees in clinical negligence cases to save the NHS £80m.