Following on from the recent publication of the NHS Long Term Plan, the BMA and NHS England have, on 31 January, published their agreement on how the plan is to translate into GP services delivery over the next 10 years. One of the most eagerly awaited aspects is some clarity on GP indemnity scheme by which GPs will enjoy State backed professional indemnity for claims arising in the course of their NHS work.
The key points of agreement are that:
1. The scheme will commence on 1 April 2019 and be operated by NHS Resolution;
2. All NHS GP service providers will be eligible to become members of the scheme and will not have to pay a subscription;
3. The cost will be met by NHS England centrally from funds allocated to primary care.
4. The scheme will cover all GPs including locums and salaried GPs, GPs working within prisons, practice nurses and Allied Health Professionals;
5. It will also cover wider primary health care work delivered through the NHS such as out of hours cover.
Further details are to be provided this month in relation to steps individuals need to take to ensure they are covered after 1 April 2019. Many practices and individual doctors will of course have already arranged cover with their Defence Organisations and there will clearly need to be a discussion with their indemnifier if that is the case. Doctors and other healthcare professionals will in any event need to arrange cover for activities not covered by the NHS claims scheme eg for private work, inquests, crime and professional issues.
The agreement is supplemented by BMA guidance on the scheme and overall pay. In terms of pay it suggests that salaried and locum GPs and practice staff are to receive at least a 2% increase in pay. From 2020 it is suggested pay will go up in line with inflation. In addition those GPs with NHS earnings in excess £150,000 will have details of their pay published. It is anticipated this move is going to be extended to other NHS contractors in due course.
Clearly there will be a lot of scrutinising of the scheme and how it will operate; the detail of the scheme and the scale of demand on it will be crucial to its success.