'I limit my clinical sessions because of the cost of indemnity'

As part of its Save General Practice Campaign the MDU is highlighting how the spiralling cost of medical indemnity is impacting on the way GPs practise. Below Dr Claire Davies, a GP in London, explains how rising indemnity costs have changed the way she works.

Right now, I am considering whether my time in general practice is coming to an end. The work has been rewarding but the mounting pressures of workload is making it harder and harder to spend time with patients and maintain the emotional energy needed to be a compassionate GP.

I have family here, so I doubt I will go abroad but I am envious of GPs who feel they have that option. Ideally, I would still like to contribute to society and stay in medicine but it is ridiculous to expect that I will if indemnity costs equal my salary – as I expect they will in two or three years.

GP indemnity has become so expensive that I try to limit my number of clinical sessions because of this. My own subscription is now a quarter of my salary, even though I have not had any complaints or claims.

I have other GP roles as a writer and appraiser that do not require me to pay thousands of pounds a year in indemnity costs. The cost of indemnity has stopped me taking on additional out-of-hours sessions per week and has also prevented me doing any clinical keeping in touch sessions during my maternity leave as I would have had to pay for a week's indemnity just to do a single session.

Read more: Indemnity costs strip equivalent of 2,500 GPs from NHS

We urgently need help from the government on indemnity costs. I don't think it is as simple as just expecting them to reimburse us. We need a change in the law in order to minimise the cost of claims.

The current system reimburses claimants for private care in the future – this law was put in place prior to the existence of the NHS. It should be amended to compensate patients to have any needs met, such as personal care and loss of earnings, but not for the astronomical cost of private care.

Mistakes in healthcare can be tragic and I truly believe that any patient wronged needs to be compensated appropriately, however the current medicolegal system is the most urgent threat to general practice and we risk having no care at all.

More on GPonline's indemnity investigation

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