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GPs likely to need extra cover despite state indemnity scheme

Wales advises GPs to secure 'run-off' cover

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 20 July 2018

GPs in Wales will have to ensure they have additional indemnity cover next year, despite the promise of a state-backed scheme, it has emerged.

The Welsh government has issued a factsheet about its state-backed indemnity deal from April 2019 for all GPs working in NHS general practice in Wales and raises the possibility that GPs may need to buy “run-off” cover in the same way as GPs in England will have to do.

The Welsh deal was unveiled in May of this year when the government announced the agreement, saying it would be aligned as closely as possible with the state-backed indemnity scheme due to come into being in England at the same time.

The deal was made following concerns about increasing indemnity costs, which could potentially drive GPs away from the profession.

In the new factsheet Developing a long-term and sustainable solution for GP professional indemnity, the authors said the scheme would cover clinical negligence liabilities arising from the activities of GP practice staff and other medical professionals such as salaried GPs; locum GPs; practice pharmacists; practice nurses; healthcare assistants.

The state backed scheme will indemnify providers of GP services in Wales against claims arising from clinical negligence for NHS work, but will not cover private work, complaints, involvement in coroners’ cases, GMC hearings and other matters relating to professional regulation.

However, the sheet also confirms that the state-backed scheme, coming into force from April 2019, commits Wales to “future liabilities”, meaning claims for clinical negligence arising from April of that year.

Therefore, the Welsh government had not yet determined whether the state-backed scheme would extend to “existing liabilities” incurred before the state-backed scheme planned introduction in April 2019.

“If cover is provided by a medical defence organisation up to the point at which a state backed scheme will commence is on a claims made basis… as opposed to an occurrence basis… GPs need to ensure they have appropriate run off cover for claims made after the introduction of the state-backed scheme in relation to liabilities that arose prior to introduction of the state-backed scheme.”

If GPs were making use of a claims-made “product” prior to the introduction of a state-backed scheme, they would have to buy their own run-off cover separately, said the authors.

GPs in England face the same situation as they were told in a Department of Health and Social Care factsheet issued in November of last year that the government did not plan to include “run-off” cover in its state-backed scheme.

Simon Kayll, chief executive officer at the Medical Protection Society, said: “The Welsh government statement today confirms that GPs with claims-made or claims-paid indemnity will need to ensure they have appropriate ‘run off’ cover for any claims that are made after the introduction of the state-backed scheme.

“Run off cover offers longer term indemnity once claims-made or claims-paid membership has ended, but this additional product needs to be applied for and purchased, with no guarantee of availability or cost.

“Future peace of mind, which occurrence-based indemnity provides, is essential given that it can be five years or more between an incident taking place and the resulting claim.”

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