Rising Indemnity Costs – Should GPs Be Worried?
GP indemnity fees have risen sharply in recent years, putting a strain on the medical profession. These rising indemnity costs can be a particular problem for GPs considering out of hours work due to the higher than normal indemnity costs this type of work usually attracts.
Many GPs are becoming increasingly concerned about these rapidly inflating indemnity costs, with some GPs calling for the government to fully reimburse GPs for the cost of medical indemnity. The Medical Protection Society (MPS) recently launched a campaign aiming to reduce the cost of indemnity for GPs by cutting the NHS’s overall litigation bill.
It is unclear how effective these measures are likely to be, meaning that for the time being GPs should act on the basis that indemnity fees are likely to continue rising for the foreseeable future. For GPs worried about rising indemnity costs, it is therefore important to understand why the costs keep rising and the potential options for getting help with rising indemnity fees.
Why GP medical indemnity costs keep rising
The NHS paid out more than £1.7billion to settle medical negligence claims in 2016. This is almost double what was paid out in 2010/11. Of this, nearly £700,000 was spent on lawyers’ fees. Some predictions suggest the cost of NHS negligence payouts could reach £2.6billion by 2022.
The rising number of claims, and the particularly high value of some of those claims, means doctors of all kinds are increasingly likely to find themselves involved in medical negligence cases. As this risk increases, so medical indemnity providers will tend to put up their fees to cover the additional cost of more and more doctors needing to use their indemnity cover.
Unfortunately, this trend looks likely to continue for the foreseeable future, which is why many doctors feel that the government needs to do more to help with the cost of medical indemnity fees for GPs and other kinds of doctors.
Options for GPs to cover rising indemnity costs
There are a couple of main options to help GPs cover the increasing costs of medical indemnity cover.
The first option, which is currently available, is the new GP indemnity short term financial support scheme. This scheme is due to run for two years from mid-March 2017. It involves a £30million fund being distributed to practices throughout England, based on patient populations for each practice. These funds are intended to help GPs offset the cost of indemnity fee inflation.
The second option is the GP Winter Indemnity Scheme. This ran from December 2015 to March 2016 and again from October 2016 to April 2017. The scheme covered out of hours indemnity costs for GPs for an additional 6 sessions per week on average, up to a total of 132 sessions.
The GP Winter Indemnity Scheme was designed to encourage GPs to take on out of hours work and was only applicable to GPs who would normally be expected to cover the cost of out of hours indemnity fees themselves. It has not yet been announced whether the scheme will return for the winter of 2017-18, but if it does, it will likely provide vital financial support to many GPs looking to take on additional out of hours work.
Find GP out of hours work to suit your priorities
East Berkshire Primary Care (EBPC) Out of Hours Service is a non-profit social enterprise. We supply NHS services, including urgent out-of-hours medical care, for East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups. Our service areas include Bracknell Forest, Slough, Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead.
For patients who need to see a GP outside of standard surgery hours, we offer first-class care. For GPs, we provide flexible out of hours work that fits around other commitments and allows you to achieve a better work-life balance or supplement your income.
We have a strong commitment to providing the best possible environment for both patients and GPs. In a recent survey of our GPs, we found that 95% felt they were well supported by EBPC Management and the same percentage said they felt able to offer the level of clinical care they would wish to when working with us.
Here at EBPC, we do everything we can to support our doctors with finding ways to meet the costs of their indemnity fees. To that end, we always make sure to keep our GPs up to date with all of the funding options available to them. Make sure to check back in with our blog regularly for all the latest news and updates.