Wales confirms state-backed indemnity scheme will start in April

State-backed indemnity for GPs in Wales will go ahead from 1 April, the Welsh government has confirmed, although negotiations about how the scheme will be funded are yet to get underway.

Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething (Photo: National Assembly For Wales/Cynulliad Cymru)
Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething (Photo: National Assembly For Wales/Cynulliad Cymru)

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething announced that NHS Shared Services Partnership – Legal and Risk Services will run the scheme, which is the same body that manages indemnity arrangements for hospital doctors and GPs working out-of-hours in Wales.

However, the government has yet to provide detail of how the scheme will be funded. A Welsh government spokesperson, said: 'Discussions with GPC Wales on the GMS contract will commence shortly; a key element will be professional indemnity and funding implications.'

The Welsh government said that its indemnity scheme will be aligned ‘as far as possible’ with arrangements in England to ensure GPs in Wales ‘are not disadvantaged’. It said this would also ensure GP recruitment and cross border activity would not be affected by different schemes operating in the two countries.

In England the cost of state indemnity will be paid for by a 'one-off permanent adjustment' to the global sum, which was announced as part of last week's wide-ranging GP contract reform. Under the deal, once the overall uplift for 2019/20 is taken into account the adjustment will leave practices in England with a 1.4% increase in contract funding.

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What we know so far about state-backed indemnity

As is the case in England, the Welsh scheme will cover clinical negligence liabilities for GPs, including locums, and practice staff for NHS primary medical services. GPs will need to purchase separate indemnity to provide cover in the event of a GMC hearing or coroner’s case, for private work and to obtain advice about dealing with complaints.

Mr Gething said that the scheme would provide ‘greater stability and certainty for GPs in Wales’.

Historic liabilities

There is no final detail on whether the Welsh scheme will pick up historic liabilities. This aspect of the deal in England is still subject to ongoing discussions between the government and medical defence organisations.

Members of the MDU were switched to a new ‘transitional scheme’ designed to take advantage of the introduction of the state deal. The transitional deal means that GPs are only covered for claims while they remain an active member of the MDU. If the state scheme does not pick up existing liabilities MDU members will be required to pay for extra ‘run off’ cover - although the MDU has said this will only apply for a maximum of seven years, and cost no more in total than standard indemnity cover would have done for the period in question.

GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones said: ‘GPC Wales supports the Welsh government’s decision for Legal and Risk Services to operate the future liability scheme from 1 April 2019. The proposed scheme will address one of the biggest financial pressures on GPs, and will enable all GPs, practice teams and wider cluster healthcare professionals to work more closely together taking forward the transformation of Welsh primary care.’

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