GPs will have their indemnity costs for extra OOH (out-of-hours) shifts covered this winter following BMA lobbying.NHS England today announced it will make £2m available to help with these expenses from this month until March 2016 in a bid to help ease winter NHS pressures.
 
GPs usually have to change the level of their indemnity cover with medical defence organisations when taking on additional OOH sessions, which can dissuade them from taking up the work.
 
However, under the NHS England winter indemnity scheme, which has been developed with medical defence organisations, additional charges will be offset.
 
The move follows a recent meeting on medical indemnity which was organised by the BMA GPs committee in response to members’ concerns, and included medical defence organisations, NHS Litigation Authority and NHS England.
 
GPC negotiator Charlotte Jones (pictured) said the committee welcomed the announcement of the scheme.
 
She added: “We have requested sight of the detail of how the scheme will run. In addition, we have asked for clarity around whether those doctors who have already paid additional indemnity fees to undertake OOH shifts through winter, will have these costs reimbursed.”
 
Fellow GPC negotiator Dean Marshall said: “The GPC will continue to work with all the relevant stakeholders around indemnity in a bid to resolve the current difficulties.
 
“We recognise it is difficult to offer any immediate prospect of indemnity premiums being reduced, not least as this may need long-term reform of tort law, something that the medical defence organisations themselves are supportive of.”
 
The scheme works in the following way:
 

  • GPs who want to take on additional OOH work will agree a likely number of sessions with their providers
  • Doctors can then access an indemnity package, funded by NHS England, for this work via their medical defence organisation website
  • Medical defence organisations will then invoice NHS England on a monthly basis.
 
Commenting on the scheme, NHS England commissioning director Rosamond Roughton said: “Rising indemnity costs are having a serious impact on GPs as well as stifling innovation in primary care delivery.
 
“We are determined to help resolve this issue and this announcement is just part of the work we are doing with our partners to support GPs and the wider primary care workforce.”
 
Updated guidance on medical indemnity, premium calculations and medical defence organisations will be published shortly by the BMA.