• State-backed scheme covers GPs for NHS clinical negligence from today onwards
  • Minority of GPs also covered by the state for claims arising from incidents before 1 April
  • Two of three medical defence organisations yet to agree terms with government on historical claims

The government’s new national GP indemnity scheme does not provide universal coverage for historic clinical negligence claims, it was announced today.

A state-backed indemnity scheme for GPs will cover them for medical negligence claims arising from the NHS care they provide from 1 April. But most GPs are not covered by the new government scheme for any claims arising from earlier incidents.

The Department of Health and Social Care has reached an agreement with one of the three main medical defence organisations, the Medical Protection Society, to cover its members for any historic medical negligence claims. 

Medical Protection Society chief executive Simon Kayll said: “To ensure a smooth transition, MPS will continue to manage existing claims for the next two years. After two years, claims will be managed by NHS Resolution.”

However, details of the agreement between MPS and DHSC have yet to be finalised. MPS would not reveal the details of the agreement in response to questions from HSJ, citing commercial sensitivity.

GPs who are members of the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland, which provides cover to doctors and dentists across the UK, and the Medical Defence Union will not be covered for historic claims of clinical negligence under the state scheme. However, they continue to provide their members with historic coverage under their existing programmes.

The DHSC said in a statement: “Discussions are ongoing with other medical defence organisations.”

Chief executive of MDDUS Chris Kenny said the organisation is “still in discussions with DHSC about whether to participate in the existing liability scheme”.

He said his organisation must ensure “the financial terms of any deal makes sense for all of our current and future members, including those directly impacted by the English and Welsh government’s inconsistent, experimental and unproven schemes”.

He added: “We cannot speculate about the outcome at the moment, but we will not see our current and potential members sold short financially or personally.”

The MDU said in a statement: “The scheme for historic claims excludes the vast majority of English GPs who continue to report claims for vastly inflated sums to their MDOs for incidents that happened before 1 April 2019.

“The government has failed in its promise to all these English GPs to put in place a realistic solution.”

The state-backed scheme, first announced in October 2017, is aimed at lowering the cost of indemnity cover for GPs, will bring general practice under the remit of NHS Resolution for any clinical negligence claims arising from NHS work. 

The new scheme does not apply to any negligence claims arising from private work. It also does not extend to any issues involving professional practice, such as disciplinary proceedings or employment and contractual disputes. GP practices will, therefore, need to remain members of MDOs for non-negligence or private practice coverage.

Update: This article was amended at 09:28 on 2 April to clarify that GPs who are members of the two MDOs yet to agree terms with the government’s existing liability scheme will continue to receive liability coverage under their existing schemes.