Posted on 26/09/2018 by
NHS England announces £10m GP winter indemnity scheme
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.
Medical Protection Society medical director Rob Hendry said the winter scheme has 'played an important role in enabling a well-staffed and flexible workforce during the difficult winter months' and that he was 'pleased to see the scheme being rolled out again this year'.
However he added that GPs urgently need more information on the longer term state-backed scheme.
He said: 'GPs are keen to understand more about the Government’s long term approach. With little more than six months to go before the new state-backed indemnity scheme is due to be launched, we are continuing to press Government for more detail on their plans.
'It is vital that GPs maintain their medical defence membership until the state-backed indemnity scheme is up and running to ensure they have continuous cover against any claims now or in the future.'