GPs can expect to be sued once every 10 years, the MDU reveals

GPs can expect to be sued four times during a 40 year career, though very few are likely to be found negligent, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) revealed today as it called for a solution to the compensation crisis.

Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum seminar on the future for general practice in England, MDU chief executive, Dr Christine Tomkins explained that while over 80% of cases against MDU medical members do not succeed, the fear of being sued and the cost of professional indemnity is affecting GP morale.

Dr Tomkins commented:

'Claims against GPs have doubled in frequency and cost over the last seven years. Claims over £10 million are no longer unthinkable, and GPs can now expect a claim every 10 years.

'Last year in 83% of the medical claims against MDU members, the patient had not been negligently damaged. This is a bad outcome for everyone - emotionally and financially. The legal process is very stressful for all involved and a heavy burden to expect GPs to carry. Even if damages are not paid, we need to investigate cases thoroughly and the process is still costly.

'The worsening claims environment does not mean there is any deterioration in clinical standards. Quite the opposite; the cause lies in the legal environment, which doctors can't control.

'The government plans to introduce a state backed indemnity scheme for GPs from April 2019. However, all it will do is move the bill to the taxpayer. It won't address the root cause of the rising cost of compensation claims.'

The MDU explained it is not uncommon in high value cases for the majority of compensation to be due to the cost of future care. Dr Tomkins concluded:

'The MDU has been campaigning for a change in the law which would allow defendants such as the MDU to buy NHS and social care packages to meet patient needs. Currently Section S2(4)of the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act 1948 requires all personal injury defendants to disregard the availability of NHS care when paying compensation. This should be repealed, boosting NHS funds for the benefit of all patients.

'The current system is hurting everyone and impeding access to healthcare. What we need is root and branch legal reform and we need it now.'

Further information at www.themdu.com/faircomp

This page was correct at publication on 20/09/2018. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

You may also be interested in

News

MDU responds to GP state indemnity announcement

The MDU reacted to today’s announcement about the introduction of state indemnity as part of the 2019/20 primary care contract for GPs

Read more
News

MDU says of indemnity consultation: If it ain't broke don't fix it

The Department of Health and Social Care’s proposal to mandate insurance as the only way of indemnifying healthcare professionals for clinical negligence claims is misconceived, says the Medical Defence Union (MDU).

Read more
News

Pandemic-hit NHS finances must be protected from burden of clinical negligence costs

The NHS will struggle to recover from the strain of the coronavirus pandemic unless urgent action is taken to relieve it from the burden of clinical negligence claims.

Read more