NHS England has announced that it will cover the cost of extra shifts taken on by GPs over winter for another year.
The £10m pot will cover additional extended hours, out-of-hours and unscheduled care sessions, starting from 1 October.
This is the same level of funding as NHS England provided towards the scheme last year and it will finish at the same time, on 31 March.
The scheme means GPs do not pay anything on top of their regular subscription fees to their medical defence organisation for extra shifts they agree to work over winter.
NHS England director of primary care commissioning Dr David Geddes said: ‘Extra costs can discourage GPs from providing extra out of hours or unscheduled care, so NHS England is supporting them to offer additional services, which is not only better for patients – who get more convenient access to care – but also eases the pressure on GPs, A&Es and other frontline NHS services.
‘By providing extra indemnity cover, GPs will be able to provide those extra hours without incurring a cost for themselves. It also means out of hours providers have access to GPs to ensure no shifts go unfilled.’
This is the fourth year that NHS England has paid for GP winter indemnity, while the Government prepares to bring in a year-round subsidised indemnity scheme for GPs from 1 April next year.
The Government was due to update GPs on the new scheme in May, however this communication was delayed.
The Department of Health and Social Care has said the scheme will cover all practice staff for NHS work, and most recently it told Pulse the scheme may potentially cover both future and historic claims.
But the BMA has warned GPs they should keep their subscriptions with defence organisations as the Government indemnity will not cover GMC hearings, criminal cases or private work.
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.