Winter indemnity scheme for GPs – 2017

As part of a broader General Practice Forward View commitment to address the issue of rising indemnity costs and to assist with winter resilience in primary care, NHS England will be running a  winter indemnity scheme for GPs, beginning on 1st October 2017 and concluding on 2 April 2018 (to include the Easter bank holiday)  It is designed to meet the costs of personal professional indemnity for any additional out of hours work undertaken by GPs this winter to enable the freedom to work additional sessions without having to pay additional subscriptions to their medical defence organisation (MDO).

If you are a GP who would be interested in accessing the scheme, we would ask you initially make contact with your local out of hours (OOH) or unscheduled care (USC) provider  to check what extra sessions are available to work and whether individual cover will be required. OOHs / USC providers include all those services providing clinical care to patients other than to registered patients of that practice where limited or no access is available to the patients care records. This can include services provided by NHS 111, integrated urgent care services and unscheduled care sessions in traditional general practice settings.

This scheme has been developed with the MDOs and you can find information on how to apply for the scheme via your MDO website at:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why are you running the scheme?
  2. What is the aim of the scheme?
  3. What do you mean by OOH services?
  4. What is the timing of the scheme?
  5. How will the scheme work?
  6. Is the difficulty to recruit GPs to work in NHS 111 and OOH services, the reason why A&Es are so busy?
  7. Why do some GPs have to pay more in indemnity to do the job they are qualified to do?
  8. Does NHS Resolution not cover NHS Providers?
  9. How much will this cost?
  10. Does the winter indemnity scheme cover the costs of other clinicians (e.g. Advanced nurse practitioners or pharmacists?
  11. Is the winter indemnity scheme available for organisations which have corporate insurance cover?
  12. Can I do some sessions and arrange my cover afterwards?

Why are you running the scheme?

We are introducing a scheme to support GP out of hours services to operate effectively through the winter period by ensuring that additional indemnity costs do not become a disincentive to GPs to work in out of hours / unscheduled care services. This will support GPs wanting to start working within a OOH setting , or support those wanting to increase their commitment by working   additional sessions in an out of hours or unscheduled care setting, including  in NHS 111 services.

What is the aim of the scheme?

Care delivered outside a traditional general practice setting with a registered list is more likely to result in a claim against the clinician. This is partly because of factors such as higher acuity of cases, reduced access to tests and referrals, and the lack of access to the patient record. It is linked also to the fact that patients are more likely to make a claim against a clinician they do not know.  As a consequence, GPs working in OOH or unscheduled care settings, often incur additional personal costs arising from requirements for additional clinical indemnity. This has become a barrier to recruitment and retention. NHS England is investing £10m in 2017/18 towards offsetting the additional indemnity premium for GPs who are offering to work with OOH providers this winter to ensure that all OOH providers have access to GPs to ensure no OOH shift goes unfilled.

What do you mean by OOH services?

When referring to OOH or unscheduled care this includes services providing primary care services 6.30pm to 8am, weekend and bank holiday services. It also includes unscheduled care service providers, typified by services provided at any time of the day,   to a range of patients not registered with the provider and accessing services where clinicians do may have only limited access to clinical records.

What is the timing of the scheme?

The scheme will begin in October 2017 and conclude after the Easter bank holiday weekend on 2nd April 2018.

How will the scheme work?

GPs must first make contact with their intended OOH provider to check sessional availability, and thereafter contact their MDO to discuss additional cover requirements. In order to have access to the scheme, GPs will be required to provide consent to their MDO to share their details with NHS England to enable appropriate audit checks to be undertaken. The details will be the GP name, and the place at which they expect to undertake their sessions.

Is the difficulty to recruit GPs to work in NHS 111 and OOH services, the reason why A&Es are so busy?

NHS 111 and OOH services already play a major part in reducing reliance on busy emergency health services. We know that the service has real potential to develop and further improve the service offered to patients, reducing reliance on our emergency health services. As part of this, we want to make it easier for local GPs and other clinicians to work in emergency care / unscheduled care.

Why do some GPs have to pay more in indemnity to do the job they are qualified to do?

Premia for indemnity cover is higher for some clinical settings than others because of evidence that suggests such environments are more likely to be associated with patient claims (whether meritorious or not).  GPs working in such services do not have the advantage of a long term doctor – patient relationships, and acute presentation of illnesses in an out of hours settling brings with it greater risk; especially where there is limited or no access to the patient’s care record. Where the clinical environment brings higher risk, additional medical indemnity is required.

Does NHS Resolution not cover NHS Providers?

NHS Resolution provides clinical negligence cover to NHS Trusts. Where an NHS Trust runs an NHS 111 service or an OOH service, NHS Resolution can and will cover additional medical indemnity costs for GPs working in the service.   Under current legislation however, NHS Resolution  cannot cover other providers providing OOH or NHS 111 services, so additional indemnity will be the responsibility of the provider and/or the GPs themselves.  We hear this is a barrier to recruitment to these services and we are having ongoing conversations with Medical Defence Organisations and the profession around these issues. The Winter Indemnity Scheme will help mitigate the risks that GP OOH services and urgent care services are unable to fully recruit to clinical shifts, and will therefore help system resilience over the busy winter period.

How much will this cost?

NHS England has committed £10m to support this initiative and will be monitoring uptake across OOH, NHS111 and urgent care service providers to evaluate the scheme’s impact.

Does the winter indemnity scheme cover the costs of other clinicians (e.g Advanced nurse practitioners or pharmacists?

No, the scheme is being run as last year, focusing on GP sessions. Further work is being undertaken with the Department of Health to look at the wider problem of indemnity across general practice more widely.

Is the winter indemnity scheme available for organisations which have corporate insurance cover?

No, this scheme has been developed to tackle the personal costs of indemnity. It is not the intention of NHS England to extend this scheme to provide organisations with a subsidy for indemnity or insurance costs.

Can I do some sessions and arrange my cover afterwards?

No, the scheme is entirely forward facing and cannot cover any sessions already undertaken. Retrospective cover is strictly prohibited, therefore we would encourage GPs to ensure that they have cover in place as soon as possible and that they review their requirements regularly so that they can gain access to further sessions where needed, before they are undertaken.

For further information please contact england.primarycareops@nhs.net