MDU reiterates insurance call

Publication date:  25 Mar 2009

GPs and doctors in private practice are leaving themselves and patients at risk because of a system of medical indemnity rather than insurance, the Medical Defence Union has warned.

Dr Christine Tomkins, deputy chief executive of the MDU, said that many doctors are reliant on discretionary indemnity and if a provider decides not to assist with a claim, doctors themselves may be liable and patients who have been negligently harmed may not be able to recover compensation.

“Many patients, and even the doctors reliant on discretionary indemnity, may not realise that it only gives the right to seek indemnity, but not to receive it. We are aware of cases where some practitioners have not been provided with discretionary indemnity and patients have not been compensated as a result.

“Patients who are severely damaged by medical negligence can be awarded damages of thousands of pounds and awards for severe injuries, such as neurological damage, can be well over £4 million. It is imperative that patients who have been negligently harmed know that they will receive the compensation due to them.”

The MDU is calling on the GMC to bring doctors into line with other healthcare practitioners, such as opticians and chiropractors, who have to be insured. In most other countries of the European Union insurance is either compulsory or recommended.

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: