Legal requirement for doctors to have insurance or indemnity - The MDU
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Medico-legal helpline

0800 716 646

Legal requirement for doctors to have insurance or indemnity

Foundation seminars

10 September 2015

We have received a number of phone calls from members who want to know if they need to take any action as a result of the GMC's new legal requirement for doctors to have adequate and appropriate indemnity for their clinical work.

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

Yes, MDU membership provides access to indemnity that meets the legal requirements. 

You must however ensure you are appropriately indemnified for the work you are doing and you will need to continue to inform us immediately of any change or pending change in your circumstances, for example, in the type and amount of work you are doing. Each year, we will write to confirm the details we hold about your work before you are due to renew. At this point it is important that you advise us if your circumstances have changed, or will be changing for the forthcoming year.

How can I check whether the information you hold for me is correct and download proof of my indemnity?

To check the information do the following:

  1. Log in to the My membership section of our website
  2. Choose Membership document request then Proof of membership
  3. Download the Proof of membership and the type of work will be shown on the document.

I have checked the information about the work I do and I do not think it is correct. What should I do?

It is important that you do your best to accurately predict the amount of work you do however we understand that sometimes this is difficult and circumstances change.

Please ensure you advise us before you exceed the amount of work we are indemnifying you for or in advance of any job change. You can change your working circumstances on our website.

I would like to apply to become an MDU member. How do I do this?

To apply to become a member of the MDU please download and complete an application form.

What is the new requirement?

On 1 August 2015, new legislation came into effect which allows the GMC to:

  • check that any doctor practising in the UK has appropriate insurance or indemnity in place
  • remove a doctor's licence if they find that they do not have appropriate insurance or indemnity in place, or if they fail to provide the appropriate information to the GMC when requested
  • refuse to grant a licence to a doctor if they cannot assure the GMC that they do hold appropriate indemnity.

For many doctors the legal change should not cause concern because the GMC has for some time required doctors to be indemnified. Paragraph 63 of Good Medical Practice, outlines the requirement for doctors to have adequate insurance or indemnity in place.

I am an NHS employed doctor. Do I 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 may however want to consider whether you need additional indemnity for clinical work which isn't included in NHS indemnity, for example providing medico-legal reports and signing cremation certificates. MDU membership also provides access to support with many other medico-legal issues arising from clinical practice that are not covered by NHS indemnity such as attendance at an inquest, a complaint to the GMC or a professional disciplinary or criminal investigation as well as help with media enquiries.

I work in primary care or in the independent sector. Will I need to check that I am adequately indemnified?

Doctors working in primary care or in the independent sector need to make their own arrangements for indemnity. As an MDU member you should advise us of the nature and extent of the work you are undertaking to ensure that you are in the correct category of membership. It is also important that you notify us if your working circumstances change so that we can ensure you are paying the appropriate subscription.

Medico-legal work

Doctors who are undertaking medico-legal work such as writing medico-legal reports need to ensure they have appropriate indemnity. Doctors working in the independent and primary care sectors need to ensure that the MDU is aware of any medico-legal work you are undertaking so that we can ensure you are paying the appropriate subscription.

The GMC guidance on insurance and indemnity also includes advice for locum doctors, retired doctors and those doing medico-legal work.

This guidance was correct at publication on 10/09/2015. It 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.

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