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GPs to receive winter indemnity scheme support

NHS England will provide £10m for scheme

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 27 September 2018

NHS England has announced that it will provide £10m to GPs to support delivery of additional extended hours, out-of-hours and unscheduled care sessions over the coming winter.

This winter indemnity scheme is designed to be used to cover the costs of professional indemnity for the extra services provided by GPs, giving them the freedom to work extra sessions securely without extra costs.

This is the fourth year that NHS England has funded the winter indemnity scheme, having first introduced it in 2015-16.

It means that GPs do not pay additional subscriptions to their medical defence organisations and will run between 1 October 2018 and 31 March 2019.

NHS England said that having committed £10m to support the initiative, it would be monitoring uptake across GP practices, out-of-hours services, NHS 111 and urgent care service providers, to evaluate the scheme’s impact.

Meanwhile, NHS England is continuing to work with the Department of Health and Social Care, the general practice committee of the BMA and other organisations to develop a state-backed indemnity scheme due to be introduced next year.

Dr David Geddes, NHS England’s director of primary care commissioning, said: “Extra costs can discourage GPs from providing extra out-of-hours or unscheduled care, so NHS England is supporting them to offer additional services, which is not only better for patients – who get more convenient access to care – but also eases the pressure on GPs, A&Es and other frontline NHS services.

“By providing extra indemnity cover, GPs will be able to provide those extra hours without incurring a cost for themselves. It also means out-of-hours providers have access to GPs to ensure no shifts go unfilled.”

Rob Hendry, medical director at Medical Protection Society, said: “The NHS winter indemnity scheme has played an important role in enabling a well-staffed and flexible workforce during the difficult winter months; we are pleased to see the scheme being rolled out again this year. We know the additional funding will be welcome news for GPs.

“GPs are keen to understand more about the government’s long term approach. With little more than six months to go before the new state-backed indemnity scheme is due to be launched, we are continuing to press government for more detail on their plans.”

MDDUS (Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) director of development David Sturgeon said: “We welcome the NHS England announcement and are pleased to be contributing to sensible, pragmatic solutions for our GPs allowing them the ability to provide additional capacity to ease the strain on the NHS in England this winter.”

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