Simon Stevens pledges personally to investigate soaring GP indemnity costs

The chief executive of NHS England has pledged personally to investigate the causes of soaring medical indemnity costs after being challenged by a Derbyshire GP, who warned GPs were being forced to quit the profession or move abroad.

Simon Stevens: medical indemnity pledge
Simon Stevens: medical indemnity pledge

In a Q&A session following his speech at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool on Wednesday Simon Stevens also pledged to take a wide-ranging approach to improving GP recruitment, and revealed that a 'huge' announcement on pharmacists working in primary care was imminent.

His pledge on indemnity came after he was confronted by Derbyshire Health United clinical chairman Dr Aqib Bhatti.

Dr Bhatti repeated a warning he made last month at the UK LMCs conference that GPs were being quoted fees of up to £30,000 a year for medical indemnity. 'People are leaving the service, and leaving the country,' he told the NHS chief executive.

Mr Stevens acknowledged the impact of soaring fees and said the NHS may be able to tackle the issue at a national level. 'I will take a look at that personally,' he assured Dr Bhatti.

Locum GP costs

Bradford CCG chairman Dr Akram Khan raised concerns over rising numbers of GPs choosing to work as locums rather than taking salaried posts or partnerships, and using 'market forces' to demand high fees.

Mr Stevens said there was 'considerable awareness' among NHS leaders that GP recruitment was a 'must-get-right' area of work for the health service.

He said the health service would take an 'all of the above' approach to hitting its target for 50% of medical students to choose general practice in the coming years. The status quo in which consultant numbers were rising three times faster than GPs 'can't carry on', he said.

He said the NHS would use new models of care, its 10-point plan agreed with Health Education England and the RCGP, and a move towards more multidisciplinary working in primary care to tackle the problem.

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