Alex Chalk MP has warmly welcomed the decision of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to develop a state-backed indemnity scheme for GPs to protect them from the soaring costs of clinical negligence claims.
The Cheltenham MP has been an active national campaigner on the issue, after hearing of the impact on GP surgeries in Cheltenham. He has regularly raised the issue with Ministers in Parliament and recently led a House of Commons debate to highlight his concerns.
According to the Royal College of General Practitioners, rising indemnity (i.e. insurance) premiums, which GPs have to pay from their own pockets, are increasingly contributing to GPs leaving the profession and are acting as barriers to providing out-of-hours services. In one case, a local GP reported a 17% annual increase to maintain medico-legal cover.
Alex Chalk said: “It is absolutely right that a patient who suffers as a result of negligence should be properly compensated. But rising indemnity costs are having a serious impact on GP recruitment and retention as well as stifling innovation in primary care delivery.”
On Thursday 12th October, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced proposals to provide a more stable and affordable system for GPs, which would provide financially sustainable cover for claims arising from the delivery of NHS services.
Alex Chalk added: “I’ve been bending the Health Secretary’s ear and campaigning about the spiralling cost of GPs’ indemnity cover for some time. These proposals are a significant success for our campaign. I’m delighted to see that, simply as a result of this announcement to roll out state-funded indemnity cover, GP indemnity subscription fees will be slashed by 50% from November by the MDU - a leading medical defence organisation.”
“This promises to be a 'long-term solution' to soaring GP indemnity costs. According to the medical profession they have become a key factor in pushing thousands of GPs to reduce the sessions they work or quit the profession altogether.”
The Health Secretary unveiled the ground-breaking plan for state intervention in the provision of GP indemnity alongside measures to boost GP recruitment, with significant new investment in golden hellos for GP trainees, flexible working proposals and a new international recruitment office.