Free GP Winter Indemnity Cover From NHS England

Welcome news for GPs planning on engaging in out of hours work this winter: NHS England has launched a new scheme offering free GP winter indemnity cover to help with the cost of indemnifying yourself for the extra hours you work.


Free GP Winter Indemnity

The 2016 Winter Indemnity Scheme is available to any GPs who have out of hours work scheduled to take place between 1 October 2016 and 31 March 2017 (inclusive). The scheme is designed to stop GPs being put off from pursuing out of hours work by the rising cost of indemnity and comes with a total of £5million in funding.

There are several restrictions that apply to the funding available, so it’s important to understand if and when you are eligible to apply for the scheme. We look at how it works and how you can benefit.


How the Winter Indemnity Scheme works

The Winter Indemnity Scheme is only intended to cover the cost of additional out of hours work carried out by GPs. This means the extra hours must be supplemental to the GPs regular work.

The scheme applies to GPs working additional sessions in any out of hours or unscheduled care setting. This includes NHS 111 services. NHS England defines out of hours work as: “primary care services 6.30pm to 8am, weekend and bank holiday services.”

To qualify, the GP must have been eligible to cover the indemnity costs for the extra sessions in question themselves. If the indemnity costs would normally have been covered by a third party, such as your out of ours work provider, then the scheme is not applicable.

The scheme covers GPs for an additional 6 sessions per week on average and no more than a total of 132 sessions overall.

The scheme only applies to GPs and is not available to other care practitioners such as Advanced nurse practitioners and pharmacists.

Before applying to the Winter Indemnity Scheme, you must agree your additional sessions with your out of hours care provider and secure their authorisation to make your application.

For full details on how the scheme will work, please refer to the NHS England guidelines.


Getting ongoing help with GP indemnity

NHS England have made it clear that this is the last year they intend to run a Winter Indemnity Scheme. In the future, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will be required to take rising indemnity costs into account when negotiating deals with care providers. These costs should then be reflected in the session fees GPs are offered for out of hours work.

NHS England have also launched a new indemnity support scheme which will provide funds for practices so they can contribute towards the cost of GP indemnity. The funds will be based on the number of GPs employed by each practice, meaning larger, busier practices will have more money to spend on supporting their GPs.

The funds from this scheme are not specifically intended for out of hours GPs, but are worth bearing in mind when negotiating session fees for additional hours.

The scheme will comprise £60million in funding, split over two years, with the first half due to be paid in arrears in April 2017 for indemnity fees incurred in the 2016-2017 period.

For more information about getting help with the cost of your general GP indemnity fees, please take a look at the NHS England website.


Why is out of hours indemnity more expensive?

Many GPs wonder why their indemnity fees are higher for doing the same work out of hours. The reason is that patients seen during these times tend to be experiencing more serious medical issues, which is why they are not willing or able to wait for normal practice hours.

In addition to this, locum GPs do not usually have access to their patients’ medical records, which makes the likelihood of problems occurring significantly higher.

Indemnity fees must therefore be higher to cover the greater chance of medical complications which could lead to legal action.


Find out of hours GP work to suit you

East Berkshire Primary Care Out of Hours Service is a not-for-profit social enterprise. We provide NHS services and urgent out-of-hours medical care for East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups in Bracknell Forest, Slough, Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead.

The out of hours work we provide offers GPs the chance to achieve a better work-life balance through flexible working and can also help to improve career prospects. GPs who work with us can decide when, where and how often they want to take on extra shifts. This allows them to fit additional work around their existing commitments and schedule.

We pride ourselves on the support we give to all the doctors we work with and will be happy to advise you in issues such as claiming your free GP winter indemnity cover where applicable.

For more details, please get in touch or why not check out our latest job opportunities?