The British Medical Association (BMA) has issued guidance on medical indemnity as the number of claims has soared, with £5 million payouts no longer unusual.
The BMA joined forces with the three medical defence organisations (MDOs) to explain the options as premiums have increased due to the rise in claims and high cost cases brought against GPs.
The guidancepointed out that “it is not unusual for an MDO to pay a claim for more than £5 million on behalf of a GP member”.
Claims inflation has also risen at a steady 10% annually, outstripping house, wage and retail inflation.
Dr Peter Holden who is a member of the BMA’s medico-legal committee and a GP in Derbyshire said: “It’s extremely expensive and the profession can’t support claims at this rate.”
NHS England expects GPs on the England National Performers List to have minimum personal liability cover for £10 million.
However the guidance pointed out that some MDOs question if this is enough as some claims have exceeded £10 million.
The BMA advised GPs who opt for private insurance to check if their cover is sufficient and check with NHS England or their local medical committee if in doubt.
The introduction of allied health professionals including advanced nurse practitioners and medical assistants will have an impact on practice indemnity.
Professional roles will need their own indemnity but it was also essential for practices to discuss potential liabilities and group indemnity packages with their MDO, advised the BMA.
NHS England announced plans last month to tackle the rising cost of indemnity in its blueprint for the future of general practice, General Practice Forward View. The report said: “GPs should be no more exposed to the rising costs of indemnity than our hospital doctors and any solution needs to address this.”
The Department of Health (DH) will be consulting on plans to bring in a Fixed Recoverable Cost scheme to cap the amount of costs lawyers can recover on clinical negligence claims.
NHS England and DH will hold discussions with MDOs and private insurers, medical professionals and the NHS Litigation Authority this summer to look at options to contain personal indemnity costs.
Solutions could include cutting indemnity costs for older part-time GPs or multi-specialty community providers taking on corporate indemnity.