For immediate release: Monday, 4 April 2016
From rising indemnity costs to the viability of extending NHS indemnity, MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny tackles the key indemnity issues facing doctors and looks to the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Speaking at an indemnity myth busting event hosted by MDDUS, Kenny said:
- We understand the worry of many in the profession about the rising cost of indemnity but those who reach for easy solutions should be careful what they wish for;
- Crown indemnity for GPs is very unlikely to get on the agenda. With the NHS in its worst financial position for many years and the Chancellor seeking fresh spending cuts, what is going to fall off the agenda to replace it? Even if it came on to the agenda, where would doctors turn to be protected in GMC hearings and at inquests? What other parts of the GP contract would be attacked in order to provide it?
- What about commercial insurers? Doctors need to ask themselves who will protect them when claims management companies come after them in their retirement or when they make a career change. If they have been penny wise, but pound foolish, in buying a claims-made product rather than seeking lifetime protection, they may be left with nowhere to turn. And will the GMC consider claims-made cover with no run-off as meeting the requirement to have appropriate indemnity in place?
- Who will they turn to if the regulator has doubts about their performance? Insurers will tell you that they will provide referrals to law firms, but how many firms really have that kind of experience in the defendant market – other than those that work for the MDOs in the first place? How many insurers will help with CQC inspections?
- But indemnifiers can’t be complacent or trot out a very niche “Project Fear” story. I am not going to tell people to stay close to nurse for fear of finding something worse. The indemnity sector needs to modernise, it needs to compete more vigorously on both price and quality – that is what MDDUS has been doing for the last decade and why our market share among English GPs has risen threefold in that period;
- It needs to follow the service models which its members provide, rather than allowing indemnity inadvertently to shape those service models. It is simply not good enough for the evaluation of the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund projects to find that indemnity was one of the constraints on innovation – but the answer to that is more shopping around, rather than Government or NHS England seeking to specify what the indemnity market should look like;
- The industry needs to redouble its efforts to persuade Government of the case for law reform to help reduce some of the upward pressure on cost. DH’s proposals on capping fixed variable costs are a very good start, but more is needed and it may be that the forthcoming Damages Bill provides an opportunity to tackle some of the issues;
- You will hear and see us intervening more in public policy debates than in the past. The indemnity tail mustn’t try to wag the primary care dog, but we can and should try to ensure that decisions are made with eyes wide open and detail thought through. To pick a current example, Parliamentary statements about a “legal safe space” for full disclosure are great, but Government needs to listen to indemnifiers’ call for clarity about what that means in regulatory and criminal terms, as well as civil justice terms, if they really want to change behaviour;
- More competition, legal reform and greater innovation – that’s the best way to protect doctors and patients alike.
MDDUS Director of Development David Sturgeon added:
- At MDDUS, we have evolved our products to the changing market and wish to support NHS England and other commissioners in both the recruitment and retention of GPs. Reduced subscription rates are available to new GPs in their first years of completing training, with similar discounts available to those returning to GP work.
For further information contact Richard Hendry on 0845 270 2034 or 07976 272266, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note to editors
MDDUS (The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) is a medical and dental defence organisation providing access to professional indemnity and expert medico- and dento-legal advice for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals throughout the UK.
For further information on MDDUS go to www.mddus.com