GPs in community hospitals urged to check legal cover

Indemnity GPs' work in hospitals may not be covered by insurance.

GPs working in community hospitals are being forced into delivering care that may not be covered by their insurance from medical defence organisations (MDOs).

Dr Jean Knowles, a GP from Highland LMC, told the Scottish LMCs conference this month that in her area none of the doctors had signed up to intrapartum care. Yet they often found themselves having to provide it.

'We don't have 24/7 midwifery care so women are presenting to professionals who do not wish to provide maternity care but are forced into it,' she said.

The doctors were providing care for which they were uninsured, said Dr Knowles.

'The defence view is that we should not do it because we are not covered for it,' she said.

Medical Protection Society deputy medical director Dr Iain Barclay said that the organisation's standard cover for GPs includes intrapartum care.

However, a Medical Defence Union spokeswoman said that because it offers bespoke cover, GPs who do not usually carry out intrapartum care may not be covered.

'We would advise that GPs get in touch with any concerns,' she said. 'It may be that cover can be added on if necessary.'

Dr Knowles also proposed a motion calling for GPs in NHS community hospitals to be covered by Crown Indemnity, which was voted through as a reference.

'There also needs to be greater clarity from local health boards about exactly what we are covered for,' she added.

But GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden warned that MDOs, which have to work in a commercial environment, may walk away if Crown Indemnity were granted.

He said that reputation was important to a doctor in a small community and Crown Indemnity would not address this in the event of an incident.

Dr Barclay added that many local health boards will include Crown Indemnity cover for such work, so there could be 'double protection for some', and denied this meant an MDO would walk away.

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