In an update published on Thursday, the government revealed that NHS Resolution would take on 'responsibility for the overall administration' of state-backed indemnity for general practice.
Plans for the new approach to GP indemnity were unveiled at last month's RCGP conference by health secretary Jeremy Hunt. The announcement followed repeated warnings that soaring indemnity fees were increasingly driving GPs to reduce the sessions they work or quit the profession.
Although the latest update confirms NHS Resolution's role in devising and implementing state-backed indemnity for general practice, how the scheme will work is yet to be determined. The DH statement also suggests that it may ultimately be run day-to-day by a third party.
The DH update reads: 'The DH has decided that NHS Resolution will be directed to establish and administer the scheme on behalf of the secretary of state. This means that NHS Resolution will be given responsibility for the overall administration of the scheme.
'As part of our work to design an efficient and effective scheme that will meet the needs of general practice, DH will work with various parties, including NHS Resolution, to consider all delivery options. Once key features regarding the form and function of the scheme are confirmed, further decisions on how it will be operated day-to-day and by whom will be taken and announced in due course.'
GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline that the appointment of NHS Resolution was 'in line with the hospital system and the consistency of approach we have been calling for so that GPs are treated in the same way as hospital doctors in terms of indemnity arrangements'.
Medical Protection chief executive Simon Kayll said: 'While a number of key decisions on the state-backed indemnity scheme are yet to be made, we welcome the progress on who will establish and administer the scheme.
Cost and scope
'The detail on the cost and scope of the scheme, and how it will operate, must now be developed as soon as possible to give GPs in England some much needed certainty that the scheme is fair and meets their needs.'
The appointment of NHS Resolution - which operates the NHS Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts that indemnifies hospital doctors - will increase speculation that GPs could move to a similar deal. The scheme is often incorrectly referred to as 'crown indemnity'.
NHS Resolution is an amalgamation of three former health service organisations - the NHS Litigation Authority, National Clinical Assessment Services, and the Family Health Services Appeal Unit.