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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs demand openness from defence body

By Craig Kenny

GPs are calling for more openness from the leading medical defence body after it refused to explain to a GP why it withdrew his insurance cover.

The Medical Defence Union terminated Dr Lal Bahadur Mandal's indemnity cover in November, even though he has no GMC restrictions or pending cases against him.

In a letter to Dr Mandal, MDU chief executive Dr Michael Saunders said the union's board was 'not obliged to provide reasons and it is not their practice to do so'.

Dr Saunders told Pulse the MDU, which insures more than half of all doctors, had

no guidelines on explaining

its decisions but was 'obliged

to act in the interests of the membership'.

Dr Mandal, a GP in Telscombe Cliffs, East Sussex, has received backing from 80 GPs, GMC members and his local PCT in his fight to get an explanation. 'At least with the GMC you have the right to know what you are accused of, and the evidence,' he said.

'These organisations are not telling you what they have against you. The criteria should be open.'

GMC member Dr Krishna Korlipara, a GP in Bolton, described the issue as 'very explosive'. He said: 'To get no explanation is not right when it could affect your ability to practise medicine.'

Dr John Etherton, a GP in nearby Peacehaven and an MDU member, has written to the union asking for the criteria it used.

Sussex Downs and Weald PCT has also been supportive. 'We are working with Dr Mandal to understand the reasoning behind the decision,' a spokeswoman said.

Dr Mandal said the union eventually revealed his legal costs over 20 years amounted to £18,500 after he invoked the Data Protection Act. His last subscription fee was £3,275.

Dr Mandal's file revealed 18 complaints or claims since 1983, although in four cases he was not the lead person involved.

Two cases involved complaints to the GMC. One ­ in which he was not the lead respondent ­ was settled. The other led to an independent review of his cardiac care skills.

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland has agreed to insure Dr Mandal.

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