What is the MDU?

What is a medical defence organisation, and do I need to join one? We answer some of the most common questions students ask about what we do and how we can help.

The MDU is a mutual, not-for-profit medical defence organisation, which means we can offer members assistance with a wide variety of medico-legal problems such as a complaint, coroner's inquiry or ethical issue.

We're there for doctors from the very start of their careers, and more doctors in the UK choose us for their indemnity and medico-legal support than any other medical defence organisation.

How can the MDU help me as a student?

We can help if and when you need medico-legal support throughout your studies, including advice and guidance during your clinical placements or support during your electives.

You can request our assistance if you've been called to a fitness to practice or disciplinary hearing by your medical school or if you have ethical concerns, such as situations involving patient confidentiality or consent.

Joining the MDU is free for students and membership includes access to study resources, indemnity for electives and good Samaritan acts, savings on textbooks and the opportunity to request sponsorship for virtual or in-person events, as well as a free gift when you join as a fresher.

Why do you give free membership to students?

We provide free membership for students so they can get to know the MDU from the very start of their studies and career. You can also use your time at medical school to make use of all the MDU student benefits, like elective indemnity and support, book discounts, and of course, medico-legal guidance and support.

Why should I choose the MDU?

As a mutual organisation, we're owned by members and staffed by doctors, who can relate to the challenges faced by members. That means when you pick up the phone to call us for advice, you'll be speaking with a doctor who's been in your shoes and can understand the problem you're facing.

We also have a dedicated team of student liaison managers who you can talk to about your membership or any other query. They're your first port of call if you have a question about what the MDU does and how we can help you. You can also talk to them about sponsorship requests.

We have plenty of other student membership benefits, including indemnity for your elective and good Samaritan acts, discounts and savings on textbooks and study resources and much more.

What is indemnity?

Indemnity is the term for the financial support a doctor or other professional who is sued receives to defend a clinical negligence claim and, if required, compensate the patient.

Doctors practising in the UK are required, by law and GMC guidance, to have adequate financial support in place, such as indemnity, to deal with any clinical negligence claim.

Although doctors can utilise NHS indemnity for clinical negligence claims that come from NHS work, being a member of a defence organisation such as the MDU is an additional safety net for the areas this does not cover, such as fee-paying and private work in the UK, charitable work and for electives.

Indemnity is only one part of what MDU membership provides. We can help with medico legal advice and support with complaints, fitness to practise or disciplinary investigations too.

Read more about why NHS indemnity isn't enough.

Why would I need MDU membership as a student?

You won't be expected to treat patients or make independent decisions about care as a student, but problems can arise at any time during your course, elective or clinical placement. Having indemnity in place with a defence organisation means you can request medico-legal advice and representation if and when you need it.

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For instance, if your behaviour is called into question and you face a fitness to practise hearing, you can request support you'll have a team of medico-legal advisers supporting you during a disciplinary hearing.

Do I need to renew every year?

Student membership lasts until you graduate, so you'll need to renew in final year in time for your FY1 job. You'll often see our liaison managers in medical schools during your final year, and you can renew with us in person at an event, or online.

Does the MDU support and sponsor student events?

Yes - we support a lot of societies and conferences across all the medical schools in the UK. We can offer monetary support, advice and help as well as goodies for delegate bags, and will always be willing to help where we can.

If you're looking for anything like this, please get in touch with your liaison manager.

How can the MDU help me as a foundation doctor?

As well as providing support for your professional development, we can help with many types of medico-legal issues, including disciplinary matters relating to your clinical care, responding to complaints and attending inquests or fatal accident inquiries.

These situations can often be very distressing, and it's essential to seek advice and support from us early. Read one member's experience rebuilding her confidence after a complaint.

Join the MDU for your first foundation year and £5 from your £10 FY1 subscription will be donated to the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund.

This page was correct at publication on 09/02/2023. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.