What GPs can expect from the new state-backed indemnity scheme

As the new state-backed indemnity scheme for general practice begins, Helen Vernon the chief executive of NHS Resolution, which is running the scheme, explains what GPs can expect from the new system.

NHS Resolution chief executive Helen Vernon
NHS Resolution chief executive Helen Vernon

The launch of the Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice (CNSGP) today brings GPs in line with their hospital colleagues and under the wing of NHS Resolution, the specialist health service body tasked by the Department of Health and Social Care with delivering indemnity arrangements.

Our mission is to operate fairly, both for patients and healthcare staff and to get to the right answer on claims as quickly as possible to avoid unnecessary court proceedings. As a tax-payer funded body, we act for the good of the health service as a whole and aim to get learning from claims back to the frontline so that healthcare can be improved.

Benefits of the state scheme

The benefits of the state scheme are clear. Cover is unlimited and comprehensive in nature. GPs and all those working in general practice will be automatically covered for any NHS services provided from today (1 April 2019) where such services are provided as part of a general practice. The scheme is centrally funded, no payment is needed and there is no need to register.

We have extensive expertise in clinical negligence, having operated state schemes such as the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) for over 20 years. A helpline for CNSGP will operate 24/7, 365 days a year and a suite of materials have been published on our website to support the launch of the scheme. We are committed to working closely with GP representatives and system partners to ensure that the scheme responds to the needs of general practice.

A frequently updated question and answer document on the scope of the scheme sets out when a claim is covered. We realise that the context in which NHS services delivered by general practice can be complex. Anyone seeking clarity on particular activities not addressed in the document is encouraged to seek advice.

Run-off cover

The question of run-off is recognised as being of particular interest. Medical negligence is a ‘long tail business’, which means claims can arise many years after the incident. Many GPs will have had ‘occurrence’ based cover, which covers incidents that occur during the policy or indemnity period, irrespective of when the claim is reported. These GPs do not need to take any further action in respect of ‘run-off’ cover.

Some GPs, however, have claims made or claims paid cover, which means the product only covers incidents either reported (made) or reported and concluded (paid) during a specific period.

In this instance, to ensure complete cover for incidents occurring prior to 1 April 2019, the practitioner will require what is termed ‘run-off’ or ‘extended reporting period’ cover, unless the terms of cover specify any defined circumstances where this is not the case. Anyone unsure of their current indemnity arrangements should contact their existing indemnity or insurance provider.

How we will handle claims

When a claim arrives, we have a dedicated team and experienced legal panel to investigate incidents and handle the claim.

The new scheme mirrors arrangements in NHS trusts to bring significant benefits to general practice staff. NHS Resolution can already exercise discretion in relation to that scheme but rarely, if ever, does so. NHS Resolution will work hand in hand with those who find themselves the subject of a claim and only settle cases where compensation is due, while defending the rest.

CNSGP is a comprehensive scheme available to all GPs whether in GMS, PMS, APMS and other settings and GPs should be confident they are fully covered just as clinicians in secondary care are.

Any GP who receives a compensation claim in relation to the provision of NHS services for general practice delivered on or after 1 April is encouraged to seek help quickly from us and we will use our experience and resources to guide individuals through the process, and importantly, share what is learnt for the benefit of all patients and those who care for them.

Resources on the Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice are available here

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