Soaring medical indemnity costs force GPs to cut out-of-hours shifts

Four out of five GPs have cut back on out-of-hours shifts because of rising medical indemnity costs, a survey has found.

Out-of-hours: indemnity costs forcing doctors to cut back on shifts (Photo: Christopher Jones)
Out-of-hours: indemnity costs forcing doctors to cut back on shifts (Photo: Christopher Jones)

A total of 79% of GPs said soaring indemnity costs meant they had cut back on shifts, while two thirds of GPs working out-of-hours said they could cut back further or stop altogether if indemnity fees continue to rise, according to the poll by Urgent Health UK. A total of 430 GPs took part.

A GPonline poll last month revealed that one in three GPs have seen the cost of medical indemnity rise 20% or more in the past five years.

GPs at this year's LMCs conference warned that doctors were being forced out of out-of-hours because of rising costs.

Analysis: Why are medical indemnity fees rising?

Urgent Health UK chief executive, Dr John Horrocks, said: 'This survey highlights the very difficult position out-of-hours GPs and our members are in.

'Already across the country, many providers of out-of-hours care are struggling to fill rotas due to a range of workforce issues including the high cost of indemnity; we simply cannot afford for this situation to continue, particularly as we head towards the winter period when pressure on services is even greater.

'I am aware that NHS England is looking closely into this crucial issue and I hope urgent action is taken to resolve it.'

Urgent Health UK chairman Dr Simon Abrams called the findings 'alarming'. He said Urgent Health UK, which represents out-of-hours providers across the country, had been flagging up concerns about rising indemnity costs for 'many months'.

'There is no doubt that the cost of clinical indemnity is a major barrier to enabling out-of-hours services to fulfil their potential, and this is damaging for the patient experience,' he said.

'We are committed to working with GPs, medical defence organisations and the wider insurance industry, and NHS officials to find an effective solution to this issue.'

Read more: Download the Medeconomics guide on medical indemnity costs

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