MDU urges GPs to lobby on indemnity rises

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GPs are being urged by the Medical Defence Union to lobby parliamentary candidates on potentially ‘unaffordable’ increases in indemnity costs.

The union says millions have been added to the cost of clinical negligence claims after the Lord Chancellor reduced the discount rate from 2.5% to -0.75%, effective from 20 March this year.

Chief Executive of the Medical Defence Union (MDU), Dr Christine Tomkins, says this means a previous settlement for £8.4 million would now settle for £17.5 million.

The MDU says GPs will be left to pay the ‘unaffordable’ costs of any claims if the government does not provide the financial support it promised. The union’s Save General Practice campaign is calling on the government to provide financial support to GPs for rising costs.

Despite regular discussions with government departments since December 2016, the MDU says no solution has been announced by the government.

Dr Tomkins said: ‘The MDU… has made clear to the government that GPs should not have to bear these unaffordable costs. We will continue negotiating with government to find a workable solution.’

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) Chair, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said a rise in costs ‘will come as a serious blow and cause great anxiety’ to GPs.

She warned of ‘devastating effects’ for general practice that could ultimately affect patients.

‘No individual GP should have to shoulder the spiralling cost of higher indemnity bills, nor should GP practices be forced to divert money into plugging this shortfall when it should be ploughed directly into frontline patient care.’

She continued: ‘The College has been raising this issue with politicians and medical defence organizations for some time – indeed, finding a long-term solution to the rising costs of indemnity is one of the six “asks” in our College manifesto for the next government.

‘The government has already given a clear and firm commitment that no doctor will be worse off as a result of the new discount rate and we call on all political parties to pledge to honour this promise at the earliest possible opportunity, so that GPs are not faced with the prospect of having to pay massively higher bills.’