HC Deb 07 March 2000 vol 345 cc625-6W
Mrs. Brinton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how he will assess whether a provider of approved indemnity cover for GPs has sufficient reserves to meet its liabilities; [112413]

(2) what criteria will be used to approve providers of indemnity cover for GPs under the Health Act 1999; and what steps he is taking to ensure that the approval procedure does not discriminate between classes of indemnifier; [112412]

(3) if the procedure for approving provision of indemnity cover for GPs will ensure that indemnifiers comply with requirements on insolvency margins equivalent to those made under the Insurance Companies Act 1982; and if he will make a statement. [112414]

Mr. Denham

Section 9 of the Health Act 1999 gives the Secretary of State power to require Part II practitioners to hold approved indemnity cover with an approved body. The Secretary of State has power in Regulations to prescribe the circumstances in which such cover shall be required, and the terms for the cover.

This enables the Secretary of State to ensure that cover will be approved only if it is adequate to meet the anticipated level of claims. This will apply both to cover provided by the medical protection organisations and commercial insurers. It is intended that the regulations will ensure through the approval mechanism that cover will still meet claims that arise from events when the clinician was covered but only come to light later, even if this is after the period of cover has ceased. Other criteria are currently the subject of consultation with interested organisations.

The purpose of section 9 is to provide greater protection to patients awarded damages following negligence claims. The approval process will be open and transparent, the intention will be to ensure the highest level of protection reasonably achievable in the current climate.

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