Are you appropriately indemnified?

THE GMC recently consulted on proposed changes giving it the power to check that doctors have appropriate indemnity or insurance cover. Now might be a good time to review your MDDUS membership to ensure it reflects your current practice.

IT sometimes looks as though politicians start from the position: "GP involvement is the answer. What’s the question?" The NHS 111 service, new organisational models for out-of-hours service, cover for striking ambulance drivers – we have heard calls for GPs to be involved in all of these things in recent months. And that’s before we think about broader questions of GP roles changing as care models become more integrated and services previously always done in hospital start to be delivered in a primary care setting.

Some of these developments are good news for patients and welcome challenges for professionals to expand their skills; others may be knee-jerk reactions to the pressures of the moment. But all of them raise the important practical question for practitioners: "Can I be sure that I’m properly indemnified when I do this new work?"

The GMC recently held a consultation on proposed changes to their regulatory powers which would for the first time allow them to check that doctors have appropriate indemnity or insurance cover. The regulator states that these changes intend to build on the existing duty set out in Good Medical Practice, which stipulates that doctors must have adequate insurance or indemnity cover in place so that patients will not be disadvantaged if they need to make a medical negligence claim about their clinical care and treatment.

If implemented, this presents significant new implications for doctors to ensure that they have appropriate levels of cover in place which accurately reflect the work they are undertaking. Now may be a good time to review your MDDUS membership to ensure it reflects your current practice.

At the heart of the principle of mutuality is the fact that all our members should contribute an appropriate amount to the common fund that is held on behalf of all members. This is an important principle and the annual subscription amount is calculated according to the associated risks undertaken in your practice of medicine. We do carry out checks of gross private practice earnings from time to time to ensure that members are complying.

Your renewal notice will show the level of earnings upon which your subscription has been based and it is your responsibility to ensure that this is sufficient to cover expected earnings for the year to come.

Likewise, for members who base subscriptions on the number of sessions worked per week, such as GPs, it is important that you ensure adequate and appropriate indemnity is in place to cover all your commitments, including work outside your standard NHS sessions, such as private GP work, out-of-hours sessions, treatment at sporting events for players and athletes, and forensic police physician and occupational health work.

Should any change be required please inform MDDUS immediately so that a revised subscription for next year can be calculated. If at the end of next year your estimate has proved to be too high or too low you will have an opportunity at that time to adjust it.

We would like to be clear that the figure used should be your gross private earnings from the practice of medicine, however delivered. In the event that you have formed a company for accounting or other purposes, the relevant figure is the gross income to that company in relation to your practice of medicine. In our recent experience, there are still a small number of doctors declaring their salary from their company as opposed to the gross income. In such circumstances we have discretion to make adjustments retrospectively to ensure adequate and appropriate indemnity is in place.

If you have any questions please telephone our Membership Department on 0845 270 2038

ACTION: Ensure that your indemnity accurately reflects all the work you are undertaking in a professional medical or dental capacity.