Short notice change for GPs in Northern Ireland 'deplorable', says MDDUS

The doctors' defence organisation MDDUS has described as ‘deplorable’ a short notice change in conditions for family doctors in Northern Ireland who cover out of hours services.

GPs’ representatives have been told to expect that the Department of Health NI will withdraw their clinical negligence indemnity cover on 1 April for work done out of hours.

Chris Kenny, chief executive of MDDUS, said: “It’s deplorable that this change has been so poorly communicated.

“A decision to withdraw Crown indemnity cover in the run up to a busy holiday period over Easter shows no empathy or understanding by the Department of Health NI of the pressures facing those in primary care.”

All doctors are legally required to have professional indemnity or insurance cover in place in case of claims made against them.

In Northern Ireland, this cover had been in place through a state-run scheme which now looks set to be withdrawn.

Mr Kenny said: “Giving GPs nine days’ notice of the withdrawal of funding for the cover that’s essential to them practising safely and within their regulatory obligations is unacceptable.

“The risk that GPs will find themselves inadvertently unindemnified or that services will suffer whilst the arrangements are put in place is a very real one.

“I am pleased to say that MDDUS will allow its GP members in Northern Ireland a period of grace up to 30 June this year to make the necessary arrangements, backdating cover to 1 April.”

Dr Alan Stout, the British Medical Association’s Northern Ireland GP committee chair, said: “The notification of the change to indemnity arrangements has come at very short notice and with a bank holiday weekend looming which will always be extremely busy.

“Our GPs committed to working this weekend cannot be expected to work at any risk to themselves and this announcement by MDDUS is very welcome.”



The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) is a mutual organisation that protects the professional interests of more than 56,000 doctors and dentists across the United Kingdom, offering access to indemnity, support and legal advice.

For further information please contact Lisa Walker, communications manager, on or 07976 886552.

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