NHS England has announced plans to help GPs cope with extra demand over the winter period by reimbursing the indemnity costs for out-of-hours sessions.

The increasing cost of indemnity has been raised by out of hours (OOH) providers as a barrier to delivering care. NHS England is therefore making £2 million available to help with immediate out-of-hours provision while longer term solutions are implemented.

Rosamond Roughton, director of NHS Commissioning, said: “Rising indemnity costs are having a serious impact on GPs as well as stifling innovation in primary care delivery. We are determined to help resolve this issue and this announcement is just part of the work we are doing with our partners to further support GPs and the wider care primary care workforce.”

The NHS England Winter indemnity scheme has been developed with the Medical Defence Organisations (MDOs), and will run between December 2015 and March 2016. NHS England 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.