The Medical Defence Union (MDU) has found that a third of GPs are considering leaving the profession or retiring due to the cost of indemnity brought about by rising clinical negligence claims.
In a survey conducted by the MDU, 41% of GPs also said that they would think of quitting if the indemnity price was to rise even further. The MDU said that an increase was likely given that clinical negligence claims inflation is rising at 10% per year.
38% of GPs who responded to the survey had given up certain work, such as out-of-hours sessions, or reduced the amount they work because of the cost of indemnity; 45% had reduced other outgoings; and only 5% say they haven’t been affected by the increased cost of indemnity.
Dr Christine Tomkins, the MDU chief executive, said: “GPs must pay for their own indemnity, unlike hospital doctors who are indemnified by their NHS employer for clinical negligence claims.
“Primary care services are struggling to cope with an overwhelming workload, a shortage of GPs and limited funding. The spiralling cost of indemnity is the final straw for some GPs. Our survey reveals that many of them, and not just of retiring age, are considering quitting the profession. Even newly-qualified doctors say they are thinking of a career change. If a third of the GP workforce leaves the profession it will be really devastating for patients and for the NHS.
“The new Government must act quickly by providing financial support to GPs that protects them from a massive rise in indemnity costs. If GPs aren’t supported, many won’t be able to pay and there will be a crisis in general practice which would leave patients at risk.
“Before the election, the Government pledged that the Department of Health would ‘work closely with GPs and the medical defence organisations to ensure appropriate funding is available’ to meet GPs’ additional indemnity costs. This pledge must now be honoured.”
On behalf of its GP members the MDU is calling on the Government to step in with a support package to Save General Practice from the impact of increased clinical negligence payments which is says has been exacerbated by the change in the Discount Rate.