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NHS England has today announced at its Public Board meeting plans to help strengthen out-of-hours GP services during the winter period by making £10 million available for indemnity costs.
Last winter an extra 80,000 GP sessions took place thanks to NHS England’s indemnity scheme, and this year, with an increased budget, it is anticipated even more out of hours shifts will be provided.
The increasing cost of indemnity has been raised as a barrier to delivering care and NHS England is tackling these concerns by making £10 million available to help with immediate out-of-hours provision such as shifts for NHS 111 services.
The NHS England Winter indemnity scheme has been developed with the Medical Defence Organisations (MDOs), to offset the additional indemnity premium for GPs who wish to work additional sessions for their out-of-hours (OOH) providers.
The scheme will run from 1 October 2017 until after the Easter weekend, 2 April 2018, and means doctors can commit to more OOH sessions without the need for them to negotiate additional changes to their level of indemnity cover.
GPs who wish to commit to working additional sessions will agree a likely number of OOH sessions they will work over the period with their OOH provider. Once confirmed, GPs will be able to approach their MDOs to access a bespoke package, funded by NHS England, which would give the doctor cover for their additional commitment to the service.
Access to this indemnity package will be via the MDO’s websites.
Dr Arvind Madan, GP and NHS England Director of Primary Care, said: “NHS England is taking practical advice to ensure rising indemnity costs don’t stand in the way of GPs being able to support their patients over winter, both during working hours and at evenings and weekends. Further work is underway to produce a long term answer to the issue of indemnity costs.”