Hunt remains 'fully committed' to state-backed GP indemnity from April 2019

The government remains 'fully committed to developing and implementing' a state-backed GP indemnity scheme from April 2019, according to an update published on Wednesday.

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt (Photo: JH Lancy)
Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt (Photo: JH Lancy)

GPonline reported earlier this month that the DHSC had missed its May deadline for providing an update to GPs on progress with the landmark deal, first proposed by Jeremy Hunt at last year's RCGP conference.

Little further detail has been provided in the latest statement. The DHSC has confirmed it is analysing results from a survey of GPs, practice staff and pharmacists that aimed to help it 'understand current indemnity arrangements within general practice, informing the development of the new state-backed scheme'.

More than 1,200 responses have been received, the DHSC says - and results will be shared with the primary care workforce and other organisations 'in due course'.

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What we know so far about plans for state-backed GP indemnity

The update says: 'We will continue to engage with GP representatives, providers of primary medical services and practice staff to ensure the scheme and its scope is fit for purpose. We remain committed to delivering a scheme that prioritises:

  • meeting the needs of current and future GPs and the wider primary medical care landscape
  • being in the interest of patients
  • representing value for money for taxpayers.'

It adds: 'We are exploring other avenues and opportunities to engage the primary medical care workforce in the policy development process, and will provide further details along with the key findings of the GP indemnity survey in due course.'

A workable long-term solution to soaring GP indemnity costs is crucial to the sustainability of general practice. BMA estimates suggest that the cost of indemnity for GPs rose by 50% between 2010 and 2016 alone - with many facing further hikes in costs since then.

GPs now pay on average around £8,000 per year for indemnity - and GPonline reported last year that three in five had been forced to limit the number of shifts they work or turn down extra shifts because of soaring costs.

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