May deadline missed for update on state-backed GP indemnity

The government has missed its May deadline for updating the profession on plans to roll out state-backed GP indemnity next year.

A statement circulated to LMCs in February said that the government planned to reveal 'further details of the scheme in May 2018, with the scheme going live from April 2019'.

But the May deadline - eight months on from health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt's landmark announcement of plans for state-backed GP indemnity - has slipped.

Despite the government's failure to provide an update in May, GP leaders have insisted the deal remains on track. GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey - along with medical defence organisations - told GPonline that they expected a statement soon from the DHSC. Dr Vautrey said work on the deal was 'ongoing as planned'.

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What we know so far about plans for state-backed GP indemnity
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Jeremy Hunt: Indemnity and workforce problems key to solving GP crisis

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.

A DHSC spokesman said: 'We are continuing to work closely with key stakeholders in the development of the scheme from April 2019. We will provide a further update in the near future.'

In an article for GPonline last year when the indemnity deal was announced, the health and social care secretary wrote: 'A state-backed indemnity scheme is the best option to provide stability, value for money and meet the needs of current and future GPs. We will work with the GPC, the RCGP and the four medical defence organisations to find the best way forward, but I want a system that is both more stable and more affordable than the current one.'

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