NHS England has announced increased support for those GPs struggling to deal with the rising cost of indemnity payments.
The healthcare organisation has made this provision with the intention of ensuring greater access to doctors for patients across the country.
In order to work towards the same, the 2016 Winter Indemnity Scheme will be extended by a month to 17th April.
This will enable GPs to work additional shifts, particularly over the Easter Bank Holiday, without the burden of additional financial costs.
The first financial payments from the GP Indemnity Support Scheme are also due to be paid to GP practices in the coming weeks, and this will help further offset average indemnity inflation.
Payments under the GP Indemnity Scheme are made directly to surgeries, and based on 51.6p per patient as of 1st December 2016.
The scheme will run for a two-year period, and it has already been indicated that £30 million will be made available to GP practices in the existing financial year.
Meanwhile, NHS England is collaborating with the Department of Health, as the two key healthcare bodies attempt to thrash out long-term plans for indemnity reform.
Funding has been provided as agreed in the GP Indemnity Review, which was published for the first time in the summer months.
This document was considered essential after many doctors working within the NHS system expressed concern about the above-inflation rises in indemnity payments.
This effective insurance against clinical negligence was considered unsustainable by several doctors’ organisations, and thus the authorities felt obliged to review the situation.
Aside from the sheer cost, concerns have also been raised about the potential for rising indemnity discouraging GPs from taking on certain work, with out-of-hours care particularly high on the list.
It is possible that indemnity issues could also prevent students from ultimately entering the GP profession in Britain, or possibly from even applying for medical school in the first place.
Commenting on the issue, Dr Arvind Madan, GP and Director of Primary Care for NHS England, suggested that indemnity was becoming an increasingly critical issue for GPs.
“The General Practice Forward View committed to help address the indemnity problem and today’s announcement is the latest step in the work NHS England has been doing with the Department of Health and the medical defence organisations. We know the rising costs of indemnity are proving a real obstacle for GPs and this funding is an example of our determination to help tackle the issue.”