What is medical indemnity insurance UK and why is it needed? If you’re new to the world of running your own business, or it’s the first time you’ve been tasked with sorting out your yearly insurance cover, you’ll surely have lots of questions.
You will probably be asking yourself, what types of cover do I need? One type of cover we are often asked about is medical indemnity insurance and what medical indemnity insurance actually is.
So let’s take a look at which businesses need medical indemnity insurance, what it covers, and everything else you need to know about this insurance.
To begin with, it’s worth pointing out that medical indemnity insurance is also known and referred to as medical malpractice insurance or cover.
If you see medical malpractice mentioned anywhere, we’re talking about medical indemnity insurance. This should prevent any confusion later down the line.
Overview of Medical Indemnity Insurance UK
In a nutshell medical indemnity insurance covers you against a breach of your professional duties. If someone believes that there has been a breach of duty of care or omissions, or professional negligence whilst you and your business are carrying out medical work, there is a possibility that the person will make a claim against you.
This work usually involves providing care to your patients and medical indemnity insurance will cover you against legal costs and claims for damages associated with the perceived negligence.
What types of businesses need medical indemnity insurance?
Medical indemnity insurance is a cover relevant to all healthcare providers, including Hospitals, Individual practitioners, mental health clinics, Medical staff suppliers, Obstetric scanning, Aesthetic cosmetic practices, and complementary medical practices.
Medical indemnity insurance is an essential cover which can cover you against legal costs and claims for damages.
Is medical indemnity compulsory?
Medical indemnity insurance for doctors and other registered medical practitioners is a statutory requirement.
Insurance and indemnity is a complex area, which is why it is important to use an insurance broker that has specialist expertise in this field to ensure that you have the right level of protection in place and avoid any gaps in cover, which could lead to serious consequences.
What types of incident does medical indemnity cover you for?
Whilst you’re working sometimes things don’t go according to plan, even in a healthcare setting. If an incident happens and one of your service users believes you have breached your duty of care, medical indemnity insurance can step in.
Here are some of the common claims* that medical indemnity insurance can cover you for: Misdiagnosis, Failure to diagnose, Surgical errors, Incorrect treatment, Prescription errors, Failure to provide a clean environment, Failing to adequately train doctors and other staff.
Professional Medical Indemnity for Doctors in the UK
Even if you are a safe doctor, indemnity is your extra coverage to protect you as a doctor in the UK in case of clinical negligence claims.
Yes, your NHS Trust will have provided you with coverage, but this coverage is more about keeping the hospital happy and safe than it is about ensuring your well-being.
That being said, this coverage also only takes into account claims from contracted NHS duties. So let’s first list out what IS NOT covered by your NHS professional indemnity:
- Defense of medical staff in GMC disciplinary proceedings for stopping at a roadside accident, and other Good Samaritan acts not listed in your contract.
- Clinical trials not covered under legislation.
- Work for any outside agency on a contractual basis.
- Work for voluntary or charitable bodies.
- Work overseas
So at the end of the day, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and by keeping an extra coverage over your work, you are ensuring your security.
What is medical indemnity coverage for doctors in the UK?
We all know that doctors work hard to take care of their patient and they are trained to provide the best possible safe care. But things go wrong.
Medical Indemnity coverage protects a doctor against claims that arise out of professional negligence and breach of duty from the professional services, such as treatment and care that a doctor have provided to patients.
GMC’s Good medical practice requires doctors to have insurance or indemnity in place where necessary. GMC has regulatory powers to check whether doctors have adequate and appropriate insurance or indemnity.
- Check that any doctor practicing in the UK has adequate and appropriate insurance or indemnity cover.
- Remove a doctor’s license to stop them from practicing altogether, if they learn that they don’t have adequate and appropriate insurance or indemnity or if they fail to give us the information asked for.
- Refuse to grant a license to a doctor if they can’t assure them that they’ll have the adequate and appropriate insurance or indemnity in place by the time they start practicing in the UK.
A doctor must have adequate and appropriate insurance or indemnity in place when they start to practice medicine in the UK.
Under the law, a doctor must have cover against liabilities that may be incurred in practicing medicine having regard to the nature and extent of the risks.
The type and level of insurance or indemnity a doctor requires depends on factors including where a doctor works, whether they are employed (and, if so by whom and for what services) or self-employed, and the nature of work they do.
Does NHS provide professional indemnity to doctors in the UK?
NHS bodies and organizations are financially responsible for the clinical negligence of their employees.
All NHS Trusts/ Health Boards in England, Scotland and Wales are members of the state-backed NHS medical schemes.
In England, indemnity is provided through the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST), which is administered by the NHS Resolution.
In Wales, indemnity is provided through the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts and Health Board by Welsh Risk Pool Services.
In Scotland, indemnity is provided by the Clinical Negligence and Other Risks Indemnity Scheme (CNORIS).
NHS National Services Scotland is the Scheme Manager, with the Central Legal Office providing legal advice and guidance to Health Boards.
In Northern Ireland, each health and social care trust provides its own indemnity, funded by the Department of Health, Social Security and Public Safety.
The legal and professional requirement that all individual doctors hold adequate and appropriate clinical negligence indemnity cover is fulfilled through their Trust/Health Board, either through their membership of an NHS scheme or arranged directly.
But as mentioned earlier, it is still a better option to have additional indemnity coverage to cover all your work scopes.
Is Insurance different to Indemnity?
Indemnity works on the basis that the claim is covered as long as the cover was in place when the incident occurred, rather than when the claim is made.
Insurance is like your car insurance – you are only covered whilst the policy is in place and/or for a defined period after, called “run off”.
Any insurance arrangement needs to ensure cover is provided for any incidents, no matter how long after the incident the claim arises.
The run off period is insufficient in most insurance policies. There can often be a delay in a claim arising particularly in some cases involving children where it can be 10-20 years. The three major Medical Defense Organizations (MDOs) provide indemnity cover and not insurance. Insurance companies may limit the level of cover or have certain exclusions.
The three key questions to ask about insurance apart from ensuring the cover is adequate are:
- Will it cover me for criminal investigations?
- Will it cover me for GMC investigations?
- How long is the run off period?
So, it’s better to sign up for indemnity, not insurance.
What should be covered by indemnity?
- Medical Negligence Claims.
- Criminal and GMC investigations.
BMA (British Medical association) is a trade union and it does not cover medical indemnity for professional negligence claims for doctor in the UK but its function is to protect you in other ways.
From Rota discrepancy, contract checking, dealing with maternity pay to salary related issues to lobbying with related stakeholders regarding the overall well being of doctors in the UK is looked after by BMA.