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a dept of health imageDecember 4 2017

The Department of Health has set out how it proposes to develop the state-backed indemnity scheme for general practice. 

Saying that it is “seeking to put in place a more stable and more affordable system of indemnity for general practice in England,” the Department has committed to establishing a scheme as soon as possible, although this could take 12-18 months.

“This information marks the start of detailed work with GP representatives and others. It outlines current assumptions on key areas. As policy thinking develops, these positions may change,” it said.

The scheme will be for England only, but the Department says it is working with the devolved administrations so that they can develop their own schemes. In England, NHS Resolution will oversee the programme.

The Department’s statement also says: “We envisage the scheme would only cover clinical negligence risks arising from the delivery of GMS/PMS/APMS contracts and any other integrated urgent care delivered through NHS Standard Contracts.

“We do not envisage that a state-backed scheme would indemnify individuals against claims arising from other private, non-NHS activity. Individuals are also likely to want to continue private indemnity arrangements to provide help should they need it for private work, in coroners’ cases, GMC hearings and other matters relating to professional regulation.”

The announcement coincided with a report from the House of Commons Justice Committee around draft legislation on setting the personal injury discount rate. The Committee has said: “The Government must clarify its aims, gather proper evidence about how claimants invest lump-sum damages and whether investment covers their future losses, and ensure adequate safeguards to prevent under-compensation of the most vulnerable claimants.”

Commenting, Director of Claims Policy and Legal at the Medical Protection Society, Emma Hallinan, said: “The Justice Select Committee is right to acknowledge that a balance must be struck between the interests of the claimant, and the affordability of rising clinical negligence payments to society.

“Without prompt action to change how the discount rate is set, the cost of clinical negligence to the NHS, society and healthcare professionals risks becoming unsustainable. The Government has said it intends to legislate promptly, to ensure the way the discount rate is set is put on the best possible footing at the earliest practicable date. We would encourage the Government to keep to their commitment to ensure this important legislation comes into force swiftly.”

Links:
Department of Health announcement     
House of Commons Justice Committee announcement   
MPU statement                  

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