An interesting article noting the commitment by NHS England to reimburse indemnity costs for those GPs who provide out-of-hours care.
It claims that over 50% of GPs are put off the out-of-hours shifts due to the high cost of indemnity insurance required to protect against the 'higher level of risk that can result in clinical negligence claims'.
The legal tests required to establish clinical negligence do not change regardless of when a patient is seen and despite the increased number of appointments, the reasonable standard of care available to patients should remain the same.
If the GPs themselves are seen to be at a higher risk of being 'negligent' during out-of-hours appointments, it will be important to look at the underlying reasons for this in terms of the decisions to make referrals, advise on treatment options and utilise available external resources, especially as the service is simply a direct extension of their day-to-day care provision.
A scheme unveiled by NHS England will reimburse indemnity costs for GPs’ out-of-hours sessions to help cope with extra demand over winter. More than half of GPs say they have been put off out-of-hours shifts by the high cost of indemnity, according to a GPonline poll. NHS England said it was responding to concerns that indemnity costs were a barrier to delivering care. A longer-term solution to the problem is being considered.