Three charts that show why GPs need state-backed indemnity

Rising indemnity costs have forced GPs to reduce the work they take on and have driven some doctors out of the profession. As the government prepares to roll out state-backed indemnity from April, GPonline looks at why it's vital the deal is a success.

(Photo: iStock.com/BrianAJackson)
(Photo: iStock.com/BrianAJackson)

In 2010, average indemnity costs for GPs per year were around £5,200, according to a BMA poll carried out on behalf of the DHSC. By 2016, this had risen 50% to £7,900 - suggesting annual inflation in costs for GPs of around 7%. A government report on indemnity published in 2016 cited evidence from the MDU that indemnity inflation was running at 10%.

GPs say costs have continued to rise since 2016, a fear confirmed by GPonline's latest opinion poll. Almost two thirds of full-time GPs (62%) who responded to the poll now pay in excess of £7,500 for indemnity and that one in four pay more than £10,000 a year.

When former health secretary Jeremy Hunt set out plans for a state-backed indemnity system, he highlighted 'steep and unpredictable rises in indemnity subscriptions' as a key factor undermining recruitment and retention in general practice.

Since Mr Hunt pledged in 2015 to increase the full-time equivalent GP workforce by 5,000 doctors by 2021, it has instead dropped by 1,000. The decline in the GP workforce is not just driven by doctors leaving the profession - reductions in the hours they are able to work because of indemnity costs are also a huge factor. GPonline revealed last year that the NHS may have lost the equivalent of 2,500 full-time GPs to soaring indemnity costs.

GPonline's latest poll also makes clear how closely linked many GPs' decisions about their future will be to the state-backed indemnity deal. Around half of GPs could quit the profession if the state-backed indemnity deal fails to make a major difference to their circumstances - and many are becoming increasingly frustrated at the fact that with nine months to go until the deal is meant to go live, little is known about how it will work.

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