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Reduced indemnity fees rely on urgent reform, MDU says

4 February 2016

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The rising personal indemnity costs can only be halted by addressing the spiralling cost of claims, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) said.

This comes after Micheal Ingram – a GP and previous LMC conference chair – argued that indemnity costs were putting people off general practice, at the British Medical Association’s emergency LMC conference.

“We [GPs] are excluded from the umbrella of immunity, which the NHS provides to its employed staff. And there is the key. We are not employed staff, so we are left out, exposed to the ever-chilling winds of personal indemnity costs and the consequent slow-perishing of our workforce as they succumb to the cumulative deterrents of a career in general practice,” Ingram told the audience in London.

In response, the MDU stated that long-term GP claims inflation has been running at over 10% year on year. Along with higher-cost claims – that are “unrelated” to the quality of GP care provided – the high indemnity fees are also due to legal changes to ‘no win no fee’ arrangements, and a general environment that promotes litigation over resolving concerns through alternative routes.

Dr Michael Devlin, head of professional standards and liaison at the medical defence organisation, said: “The MDU is campaigning for legal reforms to ensure that future compensation payments to patients will remain fair, but also be proportionate and affordable.

“The current rate of claims inflation means we are seeing total liabilities doubling approximately every seven years. Our suggested changes to the law are not something that can be put off any longer – we need reform now.”