In the letter, Professor Stokes-Lampard said that the college had ‘heard significant concerns from our members about how the scheme will be funded, and feelings of anxiety and doubt regarding whether the scheme will achieve its intended aim of providing a more stable and affordable system for GPs’.
She added: ‘The existing resources allocated to general practice are already severely stretched. If there is no additional funding allocated to the delivery of the state-backed indemnity scheme, there are no assurances that GPs will see a substantial net reduction in costs associated with indemnity, as promised.’
Last week the DHSC published a FAQ document, which said that state-backed indemnity would be paid for 'from existing resources allocated for general practice’.
Professor Stokes-Lampard's letter reveals that the RCGP saw a draft version of the FAQs shortly before they were published and 'expressed clear concerns about this statement... and the negative way this would be received by the profession'.
Professor Stokes-Lampard urged Mr Hancock to review the decision and ensure the new scheme had the ‘intended impact of improving affordability, and for assurances to be made to the profession to this effect’. She said GPs 'must feel a real difference in terms of their outlay on indemnity' following the introduction of the scheme.
GPs have reacted angrily to the DHSC's plan to fund state indemnity from existing resources. Delegates at last week’s LMCs conference said they were 'outraged and deeply concerned' about the plans and demanded new funding for the scheme. The issue also caused anger at the RCGP Council’s meeting at the weekend, where Council members described the move as a ‘kick in the teeth’.
The BMA has estimated that the average annual indemnity fee for a GP in England rose by more than 50% between 2010 and 2016, with further rises since then.
The DHSC has said that discussions with the GPC about how the scheme will be funded are 'ongoing'. The GPC has warned previously that any deal must ease the burden of rising indemnity costs that has been a factor driving doctors out of the profession in recent years.
- Read Professor Stokes-Lampard's full letter here