Extra support pledged for GPs this winter

NHS England has today announced it will provide £10 million to GPs to support delivery of additional extended hours, out of hours and unscheduled care sessions over winter.

The Winter Indemnity Scheme will be used to cover the costs of professional indemnity for the extra services provided by GPs, giving them the freedom to work extra sessions securely and without extra costs.

This is just one of a programme of activities being undertaken by NHS England to support general practice meet demand over the winter months.

NHS England is working with the Department of Health and Social Care, the General Practice Committee of the BMA and other organisations in developing a state-backed indemnity scheme.

Dr David Geddes, NHS England’s Director of Primary Care Commissioning, who is writing to heads of primary care, clinical leaders and CCGs regarding this winter’s indemnity scheme, said: “Extra costs can discourage GPs from providing extra out of hours or unscheduled care, so NHS England is supporting them to offer additional services, which is not only better for patients – who get more convenient access to care – but also eases the pressure on GPs, A&Es and other frontline NHS services.

“By providing extra indemnity cover, GPs will be able to provide those extra hours without incurring a cost for themselves. It also means out of hours providers have access to GPs to ensure no shifts go unfilled.”

The scheme will mean GPs do not pay additional subscriptions to their medical defence organisations (MDOs) and will run between 1 October 2018 and 31 March 2019.

This is the fourth year that NHS England has funded the successful winter indemnity scheme, having first introduced it in 2015-16.

Having committed £10 million to support the initiative, NHS England will be monitoring uptake across GP practices, out of hours services, NHS 111 and urgent care service providers, to evaluate the scheme’s impact.