With just nine months to go until the government plans to introduce state-backed indemnity for GPs, responses from GPs lay bare the impact that soaring costs have had on the profession.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced last year that the government would bring in state-backed indemnity in a bid to reverse the decline in the GP workforce - citing figures from a BMA poll that found GP indemnity costs had risen 50% in the six years from 2010 to 2016.
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By 2016, average costs for GPs had hit £7,900, the poll revealed - but findings from GPonline's latest opinion survey suggest indemnity fees have continued to rise.
More than six out of 10 GPs (62%) say their annual indemnity fees are in excess of £7,500, with 27% saying their annual costs are between £7,500 and £10,000, 8% between £10,000 and £12,500, and 3% facing costs over £12,000.
The government carried out a further poll through the BMA earlier this year to build an up-to-date picture of GP indemnity costs, but has yet to release details of any findings.
GPs responding to the GPonline survey hit out at soaring costs as they wait for the state-backed deal to take effect next year.
One respondent said indemnity fees were 'an extortionate expense which is indicative of our unfortunate shift towards an increasingly litigious culture'.
Another said indemnity was simply 'far too expensive', pointing out: 'In my seven years as a GP I have seen my indemnity go up by £1,000 per year while my income has not changed to reflect this increase.'
Several respondents said indemnity costs had limited the number of hours they were able to work - echoing the findings of a GPonline survey last year that revealed the NHS had lost the equivalent of 2,500 GPs to soaring indemnity costs.
One GP said: 'It dictates how much I work during the week. Not surprised we are short of GPs.' Another warned: 'The current costs are ridiculous for indemnity - it limits the amount GPs are prepared to work as their indemnity costs will jump up. We are not paid enough to cover the current costs without government support.'
One respondent pointed out that after GMC fees, RCGP fees and indemnity 'I have spent almost £10,000 without having even seen a patient yet - every year.'