Around 90% of GPs believe that the NHS should fund the cost of indemnity, according to an authoritative survey.
Indemnity costs are proving to be an increasing difficulty in this critical part of the healthcare system, while evidence also suggest that NHS claims related to clinical negligence are escalating.
Indeed, in the most recent financial year, the NHS shelled out around £1.7 billion on this issue.
Meanwhile, the MDU – the leading medical defence organisation in the UK – has warned that GPs “simply cannot afford” professional indemnity as costs continue to rise higher.
And a poll conducted by the organisation discovered that 88% believed that the NHS should fund indemnity costs, as is currently the case for hospital doctors.
Official figures published by NHS Resolution indicate that there was a 15% increase in clinical negligence claims in the most recent financial year.
And the figure of £1.7 billion has doubled since the 2010/11 financial year, with around 40% of this figure invested in legal costs.
Dr Matthew Lee, MDU professional services director, believes that indemnity is one of the most serious issues facing the healthcare system and its workers.
“The spiralling cost of claims is something society cannot afford and neither can our GP members, who pay for increasing costs via their professional indemnity. We are already seeing large GP claims heading towards settlement at £15-20m. If GPs aren’t supported, many won’t be able to pay the increased indemnity costs. There would be a crisis in the GP workforce that which would leave patients at risk.”
Lee called on the authorities to address this issue with direct action.
“The government needs to act fast to protect GPs from further indemnity cost increases as it is facing a looming crisis. GPs clearly want the same arrangements for NHS indemnity their hospital colleagues enjoy.”
While Emma Hallinan, director of claims at the MPS, indicated that a legislative solution to this problem is a necessity.
“Legal reform is required to strike a balance between compensation that is reasonable, but also affordable – this includes the introduction of a limit on future care costs based on a tariff agreed by an expert group and fixed recoverable costs for claims up £250,000 to stop lawyers charging disproportionate fees.”
Hallinan also suggested that the indemnity issue could impact on the NHS system as a whole.
“While the report does not cover GP claims, the challenges posed by the rising costs of clinical negligence affect the healthcare system as a whole. We recognise the pressure this places on our GP members and this is why we have launched our Striking a Balance campaign – to tackle the root of the problem.”