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Case Study – The importance of Indemnity Insurance

Dr X, a GP Partner, found himself to be in a very difficult position after his indemnity cover was immediately dropped by another Medical Defence Organisation (MDO) following the Doctor’s acceptance of a GMC warning in relation to a separate patient complaint matter. Following the news that his MDO would no longer indemnify him, Dr X still continued to complete his pre-booked clinical sessions whilst appealing his MDO’s decision and whilst trying to obtain quotes from other MDOs. Unfortunately, whilst obtaining further quotes, Dr X was in effect continuing to practice without indemnity insurance.

The GP practice came to know about this 2-months later and immediately referred Dr X to the GMC. Dr X was unfortunately suspended as a Partner and subsequently approached MDS for assistance after being subject to a GMC investigation.

The matter was consequently referred to a Medical Practitioner’s Tribunal (MPT) hearing based on the fact that Dr X continued to practice without indemnity insurance and his alleged misleading/dishonest behaviour in failing to inform his Practice of his position.

Following an initial MPT hearing, Dr X was issued a warning. The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) appealed the MPTS’s decision on the basis that the PSA felt that the sanction applied by the MPTS was not adequate enough to protect the public. The matter was remitted to a freshly constituted MPT for redetermination of the facts. MDS advised and assisted Dr X in challenging this decision further at the High Court. Following the new MPT hearing, Dr X was subject to an order of suspension for a period of 18 months which was due for review at an MPT Review Hearing in February 2019.

MDS Advice
After the most recent MPT determination of suspension, MDS immediately began to assist Dr X with preparation for his review hearing. This involved ensuring that Dr X enrolled in appropriate CPD and remedial courses to develop insight into his actions and develop coping strategies for the future. Dr X also maintained a diary of insights and reflections throughout his suspension. MDS gathered a strong
collection of testimonial support from Dr X’s colleagues and friends. MDS assisted Dr X in drafting a clear witness statement, illuminating the progress that Dr X had made since his suspension. As a result, the MPT Review Panel found that Dr X’s fitness to practice was no longer impaired. Dr X was consequently able to return to practice three weeks after the hearing and is now currently working as a salaried GP with a Partnership offer on the table.

Learning Points
• Always ensure that you have adequate protection for any work you do whether it is GP Practice or private work etc. With massive changes around the corner including the GP state-back indemnity scheme, practitioners should always be fully aware of what their cover includes and what it doesn’t to ensure maximum protection. Where in doubt, speak to your MDO at the earliest opportunity for clarification!

• Paragraph 63 of the GMC’s Good Medical Practice guidelines requires doctors to have adequate insurance or indemnity cover so that patients will not be disadvantaged if they make a claim about the clinical care a doctor has provided. Therefore, never risk acting in breach of the GMP guidelines. If in doubt, always ask – failure to do so may result in allegations of acting in a misleading/dishonest manner!

• Paragraph 65 of the GMC’s Good Medical Practice guidelines requires a doctor to act in a way which justifies the trust that the public places in them and the rest of the medical profession.