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15 May 2017
The Medical Defence Union (MDU) has launched a Save General Practice campaign to ask for urgent government support for GPs who are facing the potentially devastating impact of a massive increase in the size of clinical negligence claims.
The MDU has written to its GP members to highlight the profound impact on GP clinical negligence costs caused by a recent legal decision. It says a large increase in GP indemnity costs is not affordable, especially at a time when there is unprecedented pressure on general practice. The MDU is asking GPs to make sure this is a priority for the new government by raising this issue with parliamentary candidates. There is also a short survey for GPs to complete to give their views on indemnity costs.
In the letter to MDU GP members, Dr Christine Tomkins, chief executive, said:
'A change introduced by the Lord Chancellor has overnight added hundreds of millions of pounds to the cost of clinical negligence claims payable by all medical defence organisations.
'Despite strong lobbying by the MDU and other organisations, the Lord Chancellor has announced a change to the discount rate (the mechanism courts use to calculate the size of lump sum compensation payable to claimants) from 2.5% to -0.75%.
'The impact is profound. For example, a claim that would have settled for £8.4 million on the previous discount rate would now settle for £17.5 million.
'The rising cost of GP indemnity was already a cause of serious concern prompting the NHS England review of GP indemnity in July 2016. Now the discount rate change has made matters much worse.
'GPs are under more pressure than at any time in the history of the NHS, struggling against increasing demand, limited resources and unprecedented financial pressures. Any further increases in subscriptions to fund this sudden and drastic change in the discount rate is simply unaffordable for you and your colleagues.
'The government has committed to protect you from this unsustainable rise in indemnity costs that the Lord Chancellor’s decision has caused. We have been in regular discussion with government departments since December, but no solution has been announced for GPs yet. With the general election underway, no announcement is possible until after the election and may not be forthcoming for months.
'The MDU – owned by you, and managed by doctors – feels strongly and 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.'
This guidance was correct at publication on 15/05/2017. It 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.
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