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GPs may refuse to work amid flu pandemic

15th June 2009

The British Medical Association said GPs could decide to stop working if the swine flu pandemic gets worse.

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They said doctors were concerned about facing lawsuits for the treatment they provided and had no provision for insurance payments for "death-in-service".

Hospital doctors are shielded by NHS indemnity, which covers them if they are sued for the treatment they give.

However, GPs have a different type of insurance which might not offer them protection during a virus pandemic.

The BMA called for clarification for GPs and requested that the NHS give GPs temporary cover.

The union and NHS Employers are holding discussions in order to resolve the issue, although the BMA warned that if an agreement was not reached soon it could cause difficulties if the virus became more prevalent in the autumn.

Dr Dean Marshall, one of the BMA's lead negotiators on flu planning, said of the pandemic: "Doctors will be putting their lives on the line and it is only right they can feel assured they are properly covered if anything goes wrong."

"We don't want to be going into it with GPs feeling unsure where they stand. Doctors are only human and some will not want to go on the front line."

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