MDDUS input on new GMC indemnity guidance

MDDUS is pleased the GMC has addressed concerns on how "adequate and appropriate indemnity and insurance" is interpreted as part of new updated guidance.

MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny wrote to the GMC’s then chief executive Niall Dickson in 2015 highlighting the need to clarify the interpretation and the importance of doctors having the appropriate level of protection. In the letter, Kenny suggested the GMC consider strengthening the original guidance to ensure that patients have access to redress when things go wrong, irrespective of the doctor’s indemnity or insurance arrangements.

Kenny said: "We are pleased the GMC has taken on board our concerns regarding how the guidance is interpreted. The new guidance provides further clarity for doctors on the importance of being protected against possible claims for their entire lifetime, not just during their working career.

"In our experience, it is rare for claims to arise in the year in which the adverse incident occurred. Even if they do, the length of the legal process and the need to gather the necessary evidence and expert opinion, means that the case is usually in train for a number of years.

"More usually, claims are made in respect of events which happened 3-7 years ago, but it is not uncommon for obstetric claims to be made only when the child affected reaches adulthood. So protection can need to extend over 20 years after the event occurred.

"Claims-made insurance products don’t help in those circumstances. They usually only guarantee protection to doctors insured both when the incident occurred and when the claim is made. Claims from the past may have to be covered by the payment of an additional premium or run-off cover. This is in effect a ‘hidden’ cost and risk of insurance – and both costs and risks can be enormous.

"For patients and doctors to be adequately protected, occurrence-based cover that has no time-limit or cap on liability and avoids the need for frantic search for expensive additional run-off cover at the point of retirement is by far the best deal – and the safest option.

"This means that we help members for any claim that arises without the need for further premium, even if they have moved abroad, ceased clinical work, retired or are deceased when the claim or complaint arises."

Access the updated GMC guidance: Insurance, indemnity and medico-legal support