Alex Chalk MP has spoken up in Parliament about the rising cost of negligence claims against GPs and the potential impact on GP recruitment in Cheltenham.
Mr Chalk again highlighted the issue during Health Questions in the House of Commons..
The Cheltenham MP has been a regular campaigner on the issue, after first hearing of the impact on GP surgeries in Cheltenham. In one case, a local GP reported a 17% annual increase to maintain medico-legal cover. Mr Chalk has also highlighted the impact of no win, no fee legal cases, and the high rate of indemnity costs as a deterrent to future GP recruitment in the town.
Questioning Health Minister Steve Brine MP in Parliament, Alex Chalk said: “Recruiting more GPs in Cheltenham is vital to share the growing workload they face, but rising indemnity costs, particularly for out-of-hours care, can act as a disincentive. Does my hon. Friend agree that this must be addressed decisively?”
Responding to Mr Chalk, the Minister confirmed: “Indeed we do. We recognise the role that GPs play in the delivery of NHS care. Following the GP indemnity review, additional money was included in the contract last year to address indemnity inflation. We said in our manifesto that we will ensure appropriate funding for GPs to meet rising costs in the short term and work with the industry to produce a longer term solution.”
Alex Chalk commented: “It is absolutely right that a patient who suffers as a result of negligence should be properly compensated. But, as NHS England confirm, rising indemnity costs are having a serious impact on GPs as well as stifling innovation in primary care delivery.”
“I’m encouraged that the Government has grasped this nettle and is looking for both short and long term solutions. In addition to providing necessary financial support, I am keen that the Government consider a limit on legal costs. The Medical Defence Union (MDU) told me of one case where the patient received £4.2k and the lawyer’s fees were a further £70k.
“Over the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of both claims and awards made against GPs. This is despite general standards of care being at their highest ever level. GPs do not have NHS indemnity and are required to make their own arrangements for clinical negligence.
“According to the Royal College of General Practitioners, rising indemnity costs are increasingly contributing to GPs leaving the profession and are acting as barriers to providing out-of-hours services.”