GPs in Northern Ireland have warned colleagues in England, Scotland and Wales that changes to the rules around indemnity costs could push much-needed doctors out of the door, BMA News reports.
The chair of the BMA Northern Ireland GPs committee, Dr Alan Stout, has warned that raising the cost of medical indemnity will put pressure on the country’s already-stricken GP workforce.
Northern Irish GPs were left out of state indemnity schemes that saved colleagues in England and Wales from staggering costs through a ‘discount rate’ system. Consequently, they are the only GPs in the UK who provide and pay for their own indemnity in full – estimated to cost up to £12,000 a year for one FTE GP.
If indemnity goes up then not only may some GPs be forced to cut hours, leave the profession or move across the Irish Sea, but some GPs may even find that the costs of historic liabilities lead to the closure or bankruptcy of practices.
The threat of loss of state indemnity has recently been used to implement new models of working on GPs. In March for example, we reported that Welsh GPs were told they will lose state indemnity for locum work unless they joined new ‘staffing banks’.
The NASGP supports the BMA’s call for the establishment of a compensation scheme for GP indemnity costs.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chair of NASGP, said: “Not only does it make sense for indemnity costs to be provided by the NHS within which GPs work, but also that everyone is treated equally.
“The sense of injustice that this has created is deeply demoralising, and since the legwork of planning the deployment of a state backed indemnity scheme, in some parts of the UK, it should be a simpler process for this to be adopted across the UK.”