GMC guidance on professional indemnity

Doctors are legally obliged to have adequate and appropriate indemnity in place as soon as they start practising in the UK.

  • NHS hospital doctors in England have usually been indemnified against clinical negligence claims by the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST).
  • Hospital doctors in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are protected by their own respective schemes.
  • GPs working in the NHS in England are now also protected against clinical negligence claims under the Clinical Negligence Scheme for GPs (CNSGP) as of 1 April 2019, with GPs in Wales being indemnified by General Medical Practice Indemnity (GMPI).
  • GPs working in Northern Ireland and Scotland are not indemnified by state schemes. In addition, claims arising before 1 April 2019 will not be covered by these schemes yet may only materialise many years later.

The GMC has the power to check any doctor practising in the UK has adequate and appropriate indemnity. It can also remove a doctor's licence to practise or refuse to grant a licence to practise if proper indemnity is not in place.

Claims for clinical negligence can surface years after you've retired or stopped working, so you must ensure that patients can still be compensated after your clinical practice has ended.

The GMC’s 'Good medical practice' (2024) guidance states: "You must make sure that you have appropriate and adequate insurance or indemnity that covers the full scope of your practice. You should keep your level of cover under regular review."

The GMC has also issued guidance for responsible officers as part of the revalidation process, prompting them to ask doctors about their indemnity arrangements.

Does MDU membership provide indemnity that meets the requirements of the GMC?

Yes. We can also indemnify you against private work that isn't indemnified by any state scheme and for other types of claims that aren't included in any scheme, such as those related to data breaches, good Samaritan acts and private work.

We can also assist with GMC investigations, coroner's inquests or fatal accident inquiries, reports requested by the courts and other legal and ethical matters, which state schemes don't usually include.

How do I ensure I have adequate and appropriate indemnity with the MDU?

If you're an MDU member, you must make sure you are appropriately indemnified for any work that isn't included in a state scheme, and inform us immediately of any change or pending change in your circumstances – such as the type and amount of work you are doing.

Each year, we'll confirm the details we hold about your work before you're due to renew. At this point it's important to tell us if your circumstances have changed or will be changing for the forthcoming year.

We know it can be difficult to accurately predict the amount of work you do, but please let us know before you exceed the work we're indemnifying you for.

You can check the information we hold about you is correct and download proof of indemnity by following these steps:

  • log in to the 'My membership' section of our website
  • choose 'Membership document request' then 'Proof of membership'
  • download the 'Proof of membership' and the type of work will be shown on the document.

I'm an NHS employed doctor. Do I really need to have additional indemnity?

If you work for an NHS body (or the HSC in Northern Ireland) the organisation you work for will have NHS indemnity via a clinical negligence scheme. You should carefully consider whether you need additional indemnity for clinical work that isn't included in NHS indemnity – for example, providing medico-legal reports and signing cremation certificates.

We also provide access to support with many other medico-legal issues arising from clinical practice that aren't included in NHS indemnity, such as an Ombudsman's investigation, a complaint to the GMC or a professional disciplinary or criminal investigation, as well as help with media enquiries.

What about any medico-legal work or locums?

Doctors undertaking medico-legal work need to ensure they have adequate and appropriate indemnity. Speak to us so we're aware of any medico-legal work you're doing to make sure you're paying the appropriate subscription.

Locums working for NHS or HSC trusts will normally be indemnified by NHS or Department of Health Social Services & Public Safety (DHSSPS) indemnity schemes. Check your contract carefully in case you need to take further action to ensure you have adequate and appropriate indemnity for the work you'll be doing.

Bear in mind that NHS and HSC indemnity will be limited and you'll need MDU membership for medico-legal investigations not included in those schemes.

If you're going to work as a locum GP, or locum for a private healthcare provider, you'll need to arrange adequate and appropriate indemnity for that work.

How do I apply for MDU membership?

To apply to become a member, please download and complete an application form.

This page was correct at publication on 30/01/2024. 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.