Pitfalls of relying on NHS indemnity scheme

New trainee doctors warned about pitfalls of relying on NHS indemnity scheme

“Don’t think you can rely solely on the NHS indemnity scheme, even if you’re only going to work in the National Health Service” is the message to thousands of junior doctors embarking on specialist training posts this August, from an expert indemnity organisation.   

The Medical Protection Society (MPS), the leading provider of comprehensive professional indemnity and expert advice to health professionals around the world, says too many doctors applying for, or starting, specialist training make the mistake of thinking the NHS indemnity scheme will protect them against all the problems that can arise in professional practice. They therefore lack the support they need when the going gets tough.

While there is widespread awareness among Britain’s 48,000 GPs of the need for comprehensive protection, the MPS says the 110,000 hospital doctors are more likely to think the NHS indemnity is all they need.   

The organisation says that, in a recent survey, over half the hospital doctors interviewed who were not members of any protection organisations said the reason for this was the fact they practised only in the NHS.

But Dr Stephanie Bown, MPS Director of Communications and Policy said: “The reality is the NHS indemnity scheme merely protects health service staff against the financial consequences of clinical negligence claims.

“It doesn’t cover many other problems which doctors can face such as complaints, disciplinary and regulatory hearings – issues which MPS deals with on a daily basis.  Indeed, only 20 per cent of our cases actually concern clinical negligence claims.

“It’s therefore vital that doctors taking up specialist training posts choose an indemnity scheme offering the full support and advice they’ll need in situations that could be damaging to their careers and reputations, as well as their wallets.”

She added that MPS offers members, working in both the public and private sectors,  medicolegal advice, legal representation, help with managing the media and education and risk management tools, among other services.

Dr Bown said: “The message to doctors starting their training posts therefore has to be: ‘Avoid repeating the mistake of many practitioners in previous generations of relying solely on the NHS indemnity scheme, and familiarise yourself with the different types of protection available from various providers, so you can decide which is best for you.

“Thinking about these decisions and getting them right at the beginning of a career can save a great deal of trouble and heartache for you and your patients later on.’”   

Further information can be found on www.medicalprotection.org.uk.

For further information, please contact Ciara Brannigan, at MPS, on 0207 399 1406 (Ciara.brannigan@mps.org.uk) or Tim Curran, at Brahm PR, on 0113 230 0507 (t.curran@brahm.com).

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