Will You Cover My GP Indemnity?
Rising clinical indemnity costs are a serious concern for all GPs, with a third of practitioners reporting that their fees rose 20% in just five years. This is a particular issue for those considering out of hours work, with nearly half of GPs put off by the extra out of hours GP indemnity costs associated with the sector.
Out of hours cover is usually more expensive because patients seen at these times tend to be suffering from more serious issues, hence not waiting for normal practice hours. At the same time, the GPs treating them do not have access to patients’ medical records, increasing the potential for mistakes to be made.
The Department of Health and NHS England recently carried out a GP Indemnity Review to help identify ways to tackle the rising cost of clinical indemnity for GPs. The review resulted in a couple of key proposals which should help make GP indemnity more affordable and will be of particular interest to those considering out of hours work.
NHS Winter Indemnity Scheme
The NHS acknowledges the difficulty of recruiting GPs for out of hours work, particularly during the busy winter period. This is why, from December 2015 to March 2016, NHS England offered a £2million fund to cover the cost of additional indemnity fees faced by GPs doing extra work outside of normal practice hours.
This resulted in over 14,000 extra shifts being covered and has been identified as a success by the GP Indemnity Review. As a result the scheme is being repeated for winter 2016-2017. The current scheme will run from 1 October 2016 to 31 March 2017.
How does it work?
This year the rules are slightly different. You must be already doing out of hours shifts that are covered by your own indemnity. When you pick up extra shifts above the out of hours sessions you are currently paying for, the government scheme will cover these extra shifts.
To register for the winter indemnity, you must contact your Indemnity Provider and register online then contact your out of hours provider and agree on the extra sessions you would like to do. You can increase this over the specified period of time, but you must let your indemnity provider know each time you increase, and all extra shifts have to be registered by the end of March 2017. Please see this additional article for further information.
General indemnity support
The rising cost of clinical indemnity is such a problem that NHS England is now launching a new indemnity support scheme which will provide funds to practices to help their GPs cover some of the cost of their medical indemnity. The aim is to help offset the above inflation increases many GPs are facing and will be paid directly to practices, who will then distribute the money to the doctors they employ.
These funds are not specifically earmarked for out of hours practice, but do mean it is worth GPs asking about access to the funds when considering out of hours work. The funds provided will be based on the number of GPs employed by each practice, so busier practices are likely to have more money at their disposal. A total of £60million will be made available, spread over two years and the first instalment will be paid in arrears in April 2017 to cover the 2016-2017 period.
More information can be found on the NHS England website.
Explore the benefits of working out of hours
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.
GPs who work in our out of hours services can improve their career prospects and achieve a healthy work-life balance through flexible working. Our doctors can choose when, where and how often they work, allowing them to gain experience in a variety of different practices while fitting their job around other commitments such as childcare.
We offer a high level of support to all of our GPs, including providing advice on dealing with issues such as GP indemnity. We pride ourselves on the great relationship with have with the practitioners who work with us with many of our doctors having been with us for many years.