Government can learn from BMJ Awards nominees

MDDUS was pleased to act again as the main sponsor of the BMJ Awards for the tenth year running – with “healthcare Oscars” being handed out in 14 categories at a ceremony held last week at the Park Plaza Westminster Hotel in London.

Speaking at the event, MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny said: "Tonight is a celebration of teamwork and collaboration, not individual genius. I can guarantee that every single prize winner tonight will thank at least 17 different people over the course of their speech and probably feel guilty for omitting a further 12 on the way home.

"The only frustration I always feel at this event is the difference between how all the teams nominated have approached their work compared to how Government approaches the question of medical indemnity.

"All the award nominees focus on the fundamentals, the real drivers of the problem they are trying to tackle. In our world, the need for tort reform has been documented for well over a decade. There are numerous examples of success in Australia and the States. What we get from Government is delay after delay and changes to the legal costs regime thought through so badly that they will lead to more rather than less litigation.

"Second, the award nominees will have all been open, shared and amended their thinking where necessary. We have faced a Government imposing fundamental change to our business model with no consultation, no publication, no impact assessment and no open procurement process. You name it, the Government’s process of introducing state-backed indemnity for GPs in England and Wales has lacked it.

"Third, all the nominees will know the importance of working together. Government in England and Wales have put in place schemes run by those with no experience of indemnity in primary care and, certainly for Wales, a scheme is now in place that will lead to GPs facing claims costs personally in circumstances where certainly my organisation would always have bailed them out.

"Focusing on essentials, being open, transparent and working with those who know what works – is it really that difficult? Apparently so.

"Well, all of the nominees will have their own stories about false starts, diversions down odd cul-de-sacs and ideas that turn out not to be so bright when exposed to daylight. But they have all made it here, with success behind them and great ideas for the future.

"And I can say to those MDDUS members here that we will still be here too. Our new General Practice Protection product is going great guns, with virtually all GPs recognising they still need medico-legal help when dealing with questions from the GMC, the coroner, sometimes Simon Stevens’ colleagues – and, increasingly, better, but not always totally well, informed patients.

"I'm not expecting any of our 47,000 members to go anywhere quickly – and they can be reassured that we won't be either.

"In other words, as change swirls around us, we will just get on with the job. Just as you have been doing, while the NHS as a whole worries about Brexit, new funding packages, major workforce issues and so on. What makes the system work is a constant desire for improvement, to do the best for your patients and to get on with the job."