LMCs outraged over plan to use existing GP funding to pay for state indemnity

GP leaders are 'outraged and deeply concerned' over government plans to pay for state-backed GP indemnity with 'existing resources allocated for general practice' and have demanded new funding for the scheme.

Delegates at at the 2018 England LMCs conference voted unanimously in support of a motion warning that they were 'outraged and deeply concerned' at plans to fund the scheme from existing resources.

LMCs backed calls for the scheme to be paid for with new funding, and warned that the government must guarantee that 'no GP is disadvantaged' by the switch to a state-backed indemnity scheme.

GPs at the conference also voted in favour of a call for GPs to be protected from any future increases in the cost of the indemnity scheme.

Indemnity scheme

The debate came after LMCs put forward an 11th-hour motion in response to an FAQ document published by the government on the eve of the conference, which set out how it planned to pay for the much-anticipated indemnity scheme.

GPonline reported on Thursday that the government expected 'funding for the scheme to come from existing resources allocated for general practice'. This website also reported on a warning from GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey that it was 'imperative' the scheme was not delayed beyond the current planned launch in April 2019.

Buckinghamshire GP Dr Stefan Kuetter told the conference that although the government may expect funding for state-backed indemnity to come from existing resources, 'We don't.'

'Partners cannot afford to fund this out of existing funding,' he told LMC delegates. 'Which services are we stopping in exchange? And indemnity costs tend to rise - there needs to be a mechanism to ensure rising costs are not dumped on GPs.'

GP anger

GPC sessional subcommittee chair Dr Zoe Norris, addressing health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, said: 'I’m royally pissed off with you.

'You can't spend your speeches saying we're the bedrock of the NHS, pat yourself on the back about a record funding rise for NHS - and then have the gall to tell us this will come from existing funds. Taking this from existing funds will be the end of genreal practice, the end of partnerships which you say you want to preserve.'

Dr Norris said this should be a red line for the profession, and that the idea this could come from existing funding was a 'slap in the face'.

GPC executive committee member Dr Mark Sanford-Wood said it was clear what the profession felt about the negotiating position the government had taken over funding for state-backed indemnity.

Support for GPs

'I have a message for NHS England and the DHSC - we have heard a lot in recent weeks about all the support coming our way morally and financially. It's now time to make good on that promise. If you are genuinely serious about supporting partnerships, you can’t give with one hand and take away with the other. It will herald a stampede for the exit.'

He said the promise of state-backed indemnity had created a real opportunity for the government ot show its support for GPs - and urged ministers not to 'snatch defeat from the jaws of victory'.

GPonline first flagged up concerns last month over plans to top-slice existing GP funding to pay for the indemnity overhaul. One of the leading medical defence organisations called last week for GPs to have the right to opt out of the 'untested' scheme - and to be able to retain their existing indemnity model without losing out financially compared with the rest of the profession.

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