The medical defence specialist MDDUS has reaffirmed its commitment to offer GPs occurrence-based indemnity, amid moves by other providers to withdraw it.
MDDUS, which represents the professional interests of more than 54,000 doctors and dentists across the UK, said its market monitoring had picked up on changes with one provider now only offering GPs membership via “claims-made” products at renewal.
With a claims-made product, indemnity is provided only for claims which occurred and are notified during the contract term. However, the process of notification of a medical negligence claim or a complaint to the regulator often occurs years after an event occurred.
This latest switch by indemnity providers from occurrence to claims-made products will initially impact hundreds of GPs with practices in Northern Ireland.
Chris Kenny, chief executive of MDDUS, said: “Claims-made products are often found in the insurance market, but are very rare in the GP market.
“They operate in a very different way to the occurrence-based indemnity with which GPs are familiar.
“MDDUS is clear that this major change may in the long term increase both jeopardy and cost to GPs in Northern Ireland.
“The complexities of the product – and the necessary add-ons to it – will not be immediately apparent to most GPs who we are convinced are better served by the existing model. That’s why MDDUS has no intention of making any such move.”
Market monitoring carried out by MDDUS uncovered a decision by one of its competitors to move its GP members in Northern Ireland from an occurrence-based indemnity product, to a claims-made alternative.
Under these revised terms, Mr Kenny warned, affected GPs will need to ensure that they maintain continuous protection against late-notified cases. This may include additional costs to the GP if they wish to change indemnity provider, temporarily cease practice or retire.
He added: “We therefore see the potential at best for misunderstanding and, at worst, difficult cases and personal and financial distress ahead.
“MDDUS remains committed to maintaining and growing our presence in Northern Ireland and we will continue to offer our occurrence-based membership, together with our comprehensive medicolegal, legal, risk education and wider professional services.”
NOTES: MDDUS is a mutual organisation that represents the professional interests of more than 54,000 doctors, dentists, and allied health professionals across the United Kingdom, offering access to indemnity, legal and professional advice and support.