Northern Ireland GPs urged not to ‘sleepwalk’ in state-managed indemnity

Family doctors in Northern Ireland are being urged not to ‘sleepwalk’ into potentially paying more for a reduction in service by supporting a move to state-managed indemnity.

MDDUS, a medical defence organisation (MDO) representing one-in-four GPs in Northern Ireland, highlighted that its members’ rates had been trending downwards for nearly a decade.

On average, a GP practising in Northern Ireland as a member of MDDUS now pays 5.5% less for indemnity than they did in 2015.

In a report published yesterday, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said a ‘tailored intervention’ amounting to state-managed indemnity was needed to retain GPs working in Northern Ireland. The report claimed GPs were typically paying around £10,000 in indemnity costs.

Chris Kenny, chief executive of MDDUS, said: “Our prices are 5.5% lower today in cash terms than a decade ago. In real terms, that’s a 40% reduction on average for a GP working in Northern Ireland.

“We’ve done that without watering-down our service and commitment to be on our members side, day and night.

“It’s hugely disappointing and concerning to see the RCGP in Northern Ireland overlook the reality of the situation.

“We urge GPs not to sleepwalk into a state-managed scheme and to look in detail at what an indemnity system like that could mean in reality for them.

“Unlike their membership of an MDO, the state scheme won’t provide expert legal advice and specialist support if they face a claim or find themselves under investigation by the General Medical Council.

“In those difficult and stressful circumstances, they’d be facing alone all the costs and challenges these scenarios bring – not least the possibility of legal bills running into tens of thousands of pounds.”

Mr Kenny said that MDOs offer their members stability, citing the DoH’s sudden decision in March (later temporarily reversed) to withdraw out of hours cover for GPs.

He added: “It’s dangerous scaremongering to suggest that every GP in Northern Ireland is paying £10,000 in indemnity costs.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of our Northern Ireland GP members who pay more than £7,500.

“Our prices for GPs working in Northern Ireland are due to fall again this year so we suggest shopping about for a good deal is better than crossing your fingers and hoping Stormont can fix it.”


The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) is a mutual organisation that protects the professional interests of more than 56,000 doctors and dentists across the United Kingdom, offering access to indemnity, support and legal advice.

For further information, please contact Alison Hardie, head of strategic communications and public affairs, on or on 07501 421398

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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