Soaring medical indemnity costs force GPs out of the profession

GPs are being forced out of work because they can no longer afford soaring medical indemnity costs, LMCs have warned.

Dr Andrew Purbrick: medical indemnity cost warning (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dr Andrew Purbrick: medical indemnity cost warning (Photo: JH Lancy)

GPs called on the government to directly reimburse indemnity cover, and for the GPC to explore the pros and cons of crown indemnity cover being extended to GPs.

Dr Adam Harrison, from Nottingham LMC, said that the increasing costs were damaging. One GP in his county had been quoted indemnity cover at £85,000 a year, he said.

‘Medical defence societies are justifying premiums which render it uneconomic to provide services,’ Dr Harrison said. ‘The case of crown indemnity being extended to GPs must be considered.’

GP indemnity

Dr Andrew Purbrick from Dorset LMC, said that as GPs’ responsibilities grow, patient complaints are rising and society is becoming ‘increasingly litigious’.

‘We are subject to more scrutiny and regulation than ever before. It makes it more difficult to make pragmatic decisions about patient care,’ he said.

Dr Saqib Anwar from Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland LMCs, said premiums had risen 150% in his area, but a lack of transparency behind these increases led to a lack of trust.

A big concern for GPs was whether seeking advice was linked to higher indemnity costs. Dr Anwar said a colleague had seen his costs almost double after calls to a medical defence body. ‘His indemnity cover went from £8,000 to £15,000 based on five contacts the practice made for advice on handling complaints,’ he said.

GP crown indemnity

GPC Wales chairwoman Dr Charlotte Jones said crown indemnity would ‘act in the cheapest way for the NHS’ and it would be ‘cleaner and safer’ for GPs to cover themselves.

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) and Medical Defence Union (MDU) said that they are member-owned, not-for-profit organisations.

‘We have an obligation to ensure that we collect sufficient subscription income to meet the expected future costs of claims against members,’ a spokesman for the MPS said.

An MDU spokeswoman said: ‘In the face of the level of claims inflation outlined above it is inevitable that subscriptions have to rise.'

Both organisations said that legal reforms were needed to ‘tackle the increasing cost of clinical negligence’.

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