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State-backed GP indemnity scheme announced

Wales to launch scheme in April 2019

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 14 May 2018

All GPs working in NHS general practice in Wales will be covered by a state-backed indemnity deal from April of next year.

The Welsh 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.

Welsh ministers said the move had been made due to concerns about increasing indemnity costs, which could potentially drive GPs away from the profession, resulting in an impact on services.

The scheme would ensure that GPs in Wales were not at a disadvantage relative to GPs in England and that GP recruitment and cross border activity would not be adversely affected by different schemes operating in England and Wales.

Talks are due to take place between the Welsh government, medical defence organisations, BMA and other relevant bodies to agree the exact details of the scheme.

It is understood that the scheme will cover claims arising from clinical negligence for NHS work, but will not include assistance with complaints, GMC inquiries, inquests, disciplinary proceedings or indemnity for non-NHS work. It will cover all contracted GPs and other health professionals working in NHS general practice.

Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said: “We have listened to GPs’ concerns. We understand the impact rising professional indemnity costs is having on the workforce and the potential for future pressure if different indemnity practices were in place in England and Wales.

“We’ve contributed towards the increasing indemnity costs through the annual uplift in GP pay and expenses since 2017, but today we are going further by responding to GPs' concerns with a long-term and sustainable solution.

“This further demonstrates our commitment to invest in primary care in Wales and attract more GPs to work in Wales, helping us to make sure our health service is sustainable in the long-term.”

The BMA’s GP committee Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones and deputy chair Dr Peter Horvath-Howard welcomed the plan, saying: “It is reassuring to hear that the scheme will cover the wider practice clinical team, and will ensure that any vicarious liabilities GP partners have with the wider multi-disciplinary teams working across clusters is covered.

“We look forward to working through the details with Welsh government who have clearly recognised the need for action on this complex issue.”

Dr Christine Tomkins, chief executive of the MDU (Medical Defence Union), said: “Today's announcement of a state-backed indemnity scheme for GPs and their staff in Wales comes not a moment too soon. With a similar scheme also due to be introduced in April 2019 for GPs in England, it is only fair that Welsh GPs benefit from same support with spiralling indemnity costs, which are not of their making.”

Simon Kayll, chief executive of the Medical Protection Society (MPS), said: “The UK government’s decision last year to change the discount rate in Wales and England significantly increased the cost of settling claims with an element of future care costs or loss of earnings, at a time when the cost of clinical negligence was already becoming unsustainable.

“A state-backed indemnity scheme for GPs in Wales, to protect them from the increased costs, will be welcome news to many GPs, and reflects the changing nature of primary care.”

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