Medico-legal fees rise as negligence claims soar

The cost of medico-legal insurance for GPs has been forced up this year after a hike in the cost of negligence claims.

Cost rises for medico-legal insurance 'more accurately reflect risk' (Photograph: Istock)
Cost rises for medico-legal insurance 'more accurately reflect risk' (Photograph: Istock)

The Medical Protection Society (MPS), Medical Defence Union (MDU) and Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) have all increased their subscription rates for GPs this year.

Dr Iain Barclay, MPS deputy medical director, said subscription costs had increased by 12.5 per cent after a 40 per cent rise in the cost of clinical negligence claims against GPs and private doctors last year.

He said the MPS had to balance keeping rates low with ensuring sufficient funds are available to provide security to members now and in the future.

The maximum subscription cost for a partner, which is for a GP delivering eleven or more sessions per week, increased from £5,400 to £6,075 a year.

Fees for locums are also set to rise after the MPS moved them from the salaried GP rate to the higher partner rate.

'This increase more accurately reflects the risk and our claims experience in this group of doctors,' Dr Barclay said.

'The increase will only affect salaried GPs whose freelance locum work accounts for more then 50 per cent of their average weekly work time.'

Meanwhile, the MDU said the rate of claims inflation has remained 'consistently above' the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

A spokeswoman attributed this to rising legal fees and the increasing cost of care for people harmed by medical errors. But the MDU limited subscription rises for partners in 2010 to 3 per cent and froze salaried rates.

MDDUS subscriptions rose 4.4 per cent, in line with the RPI.

Deputy GPC chairman Dr Richard Vautrey was not surprised by the rise in negligence claims. 'No-win-no-fee adverts and encouragement on daytime television is driving this.'

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