Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services
I am pleased to announce that the Welsh Government will introduce a state backed scheme to provide clinical negligence indemnity for providers of GP services in Wales. The scheme, which is planned to come into force from April 2019, will cover all contracted GPs and other health professionals working in NHS general practice.
The scheme, which will be aligned as far as possible to the state backed scheme announced for GPs in England, will ensure that GPs in Wales are not at a disadvantage relative to GPs in England. It will also help to ensure that GP recruitment and cross border activity will not be adversely affected by different schemes operating in England and Wales.
The announcement of a state backed scheme for providers of GP services in Wales will help address the concerns of GPs about the affordability of professional indemnity premiums and its potential impact on services and wider GP recruitment and retention. It is estimated that indemnity premiums have increased by 7% per year on average between 2013 and 2017. Among the factors driving the increasing cost of indemnity is an ageing population; technological innovation in medicine which keeps people alive longer; an increase in people living with complex conditions and an increasing claims culture.
The Welsh Government made a commitment, as part of the changes to the GMS contract for 2017/18, to develop a solution to address this issue. We will continue to work with GPC Wales to do just that. In addition, through the General Medical Services Contract, Welsh Government has contributed towards the increasing costs of GP professional indemnity since 2017/18 through the annual uplift to GP pay and expenses.
The scheme will deliver a sustainable, longer term, solution to address the increasing costs of GP professional indemnity.
The state backed scheme will indemnify individuals against claims arising from clinical negligence for NHS work, but will not cover private work, complaints, involvement in coroners’ cases, GMC hearings and other matters relating to professional regulation. GPs will be expected to take out indemnity insurance to cover private work and the other aspects not covered by the state.
The scheme will cover the activity of all contractors who provide primary medical services in the delivery of general medical services. This will include clinical negligence liabilities arising from the activities of GP practice staff and other medical professionals working for the GP practice in the provision of these contracted services.
Over the coming months, Welsh Government officials will make further progress with GPC Wales, Medical Defence Organisations and the Welsh Risk Pool over the way in which the scheme will operate.
I will provide a further Written Statement in due course.