Doctors turn to MDU for reassurance in record numbers during pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has led to record numbers of doctors seeking support and advice with medico-legal and membership queries, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) said today.

During the height of the pandemic, the MDU, the UK's leading medical defence organisation which has over 200,000 members, saw a 57% increase in doctors visiting its website for medico-legal advice on areas such as death certificates and remote consultations. Meanwhile, the MDU's membership team dealt with almost 40,000 calls and 46,000 emails from members between April and July. Many members whose work circumstances had changed contacted us to adjust their subscription.

The MDU released the figures as it published its annual report for 2019 showing the mutual defence organisation's strong financial position - a key factor in allowing a quick and efficient response to members' changing needs during the pandemic.

Dr Christine Tomkins, MDU chief executive commented:

"Our annual report looks back on the issues affecting members during 2019, but no one could have anticipated the events that would so dramatically impact all of us in 2020.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals have been making enormous personal and professional sacrifices and medical practice has had to change fast. Innovations such as the shift to remote consultations have happened virtually overnight and it's no wonder that MDU members are looking for trusted information and advice from us on the medico-legal implications of this and all the other issues arising from the pandemic.

"Many members work circumstances have changed dramatically with doctors coming out of retirement or working in unfamiliar settings. This led to a surge in calls to our membership helpline but we have maintained our excellent levels of service throughout. Between April and July this year, our membership team answered over 82% of almost 40,000 calls within 20 seconds. This is important because our members' time is precious and we know they value a quick and accurate response to their queries."

Dr Paul Riordan-Eva, MDU chairman, continued:

"We recognise the immense pressure our members face in carrying out their clinical duties and are constantly striving to alleviate it. This underlies everything we do and has never been more important that during the current health emergency.

"Our strong financial position and experienced team meant that we were able to quickly adapt to the new working conditions of the pandemic while continuing to fully support members at this uncertain time."

Other results from the MDU's annual report for 2019 include:

  • GP member numbers increased by 4% following the inception of NHS state indemnity for primary care on 1 April 2019
  • over 80% of medical and 65% of dental claims were successfully defended being closed without payment
  • 27,000 calls were made to the 24-hour advisory helpline with over 98% during working hours answered within 20 seconds
  • 82% of GMC cases involving MDU members at the case examiner stage were resolved without referral to an MPTS hearing.

This page was correct at publication on 06/08/2020. 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.