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Defence bodies reject GPs cleared by GMC as ‘too expensive to insure’

Exclusive: GPs who have been investigated by the GMC and then cleared or put through remediation are being effectively barred from practising because medical defence bodies consider them too expensive to insure, Pulse can reveal.

GP leaders have warned that a series of doctors – including one involved in a high-profile national case in which he was cleared – have been prevented from returning to clinical practice because they have been unable to obtain indemnity insurance after their cases incurred legal fees running into six figures.

It is a regulatory requirement for GPs to obtain indemnity insurance, with three major medical defence bodies – the Medical Defence Union, the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland and the Medical Protection Society – offering cover, in addition to a few commercial providers.

But the GPC and LMC leaders claim the limited number of insurers means some GPs face having their careers ended prematurely.

Dr Tony Grewal, medical director of Londonwide LMCs, is currently advising on seven cases where GPs who have gone through remediation are struggling to get indemnity cover: ‘The medical defence organisations are making a financial judgment. If they say "we won't insure you", that means you cannot work. It's like the old trial for witchcraft – the process will destroy you, even if you're innocent. You risk ending the doctor's career on the basis of a financial prediction.'

One GP affected, who asked not to be named, said that after his GMC erasure was revoked he had been ‘devastated' to receive ‘blanket rejections'.

Dr Peter Holden, GPC negotiator, said the GPC was investigating the issue: ‘While I can understand an insurer has to consider risks, there are only a few malpractice insurers for GPs. It is but a small step to doctors being completely cut out.'

The MDU, MDDUS and MPS refused to disclose how many doctors restored to the GMC register had been refused cover on cost grounds – but said they had a ‘duty' to refuse some applications.

Dr Jim Rodger, head of professional services at MDDUS, said: ‘As a mutual indemnity organisation we have a responsibility to protect our members' interests by ensuring the decisions we make do not incur any inappropriate risk – this can sometimes mean refusing applications for membership.'

An MDU spokesperson said: ‘We have a duty to our members to manage the risks.'

Dr Stephanie Bown, director of policy at the MPS, said the ‘vast majority' of applicants were accepted, but added: ‘A doctor who has been restored to the register does not necessarily equate to an acceptable risk.'

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Readers' comments (3)

  • I have had a similar issue. I was a Locum GP with MPS. I then settled down into a salaried GP post, where they ahd group MDU asking me to join. So I applied to join MDU. MDU made it clear I was covered from day 1 during the application. Never did they say to not leave MPS or that my application was, as never crossed my mind, to be rejected - had a clean sheet (no GMC, PCT, NCAS issues at all). So I cancelled with MPS, after being informed by MDU I am covered from day 1 in my new salaried job.
    But after a few weeks MDU told me, when I called up to ask a trivial matter post-GP meeting, that they could not help me - my application was declined! They could not and would not inform me why. It was "at their discretion" was what they excuse.
    So I reapplied to MPS, explaining in the section "have you ever been declined" I ticked yes and had to reexplain all my usual GP discreet complaints we GPs get on a yearly basis - myself 3 every yeasr, each time in the same month in autumn! MPS Declined me - and would not inform me why! I was shocked. I felt as if I was in a dream I was with MPS for 2 years, having it renewed it recently. I was not with them for 5 weeks as I was with MDU, and now MPS rejected me to reinstate my membership! My medical director and practise manager seeing my "Letter of Good standing " from MPS, could not understand also. it was crazy. Here is a new GP, wanted to settle down after getting married from locuming to salaried GP post and I get kicked in the teeth from MDU and MPS.
    The Medical Director was most compassionate and supportive to have the Group Director apply for MDU. MPS told em I could not reapply for at least 12 months! 2 finger to them in their feedback email.
    MDU rejected me once again.
    I had to resign from my post.
    2 months I am now at a crossroads, what to do.
    I am now looking at Locum SHO Psychiatry. My foot in the door I am told is via private that may have medical indemnity. I called MDU who were most patronising asking me questions not coherently and talking down at me with contempt for me to just get a quote and an application form. They wanted to know FULL detail of my job and since I let slip the private firm may have indemnity in place, they wont give me a quote if they dont have their own indemnity - so stuck and secretly sly.
    They have as mafia control on us GPs more than the GMC. I have aced my appraisals and MSF feedbacks, no issues ever with GMC or PCT/CCG or NCAS. I and all my GP peers are at al loss of words why to a recently new GP the MPS and MDU are doing this. 10 years of my training to work as a GP is all down the drain. They dont even have the decency to tell me why, why why they have declined me.
    I have lost all faith in the UK Medical system totally.
    We are not doctors but beggars, shoe polishers especially from such arrogant narrow minded contemptible people at MPS and MDU who made life and death decisions to ruin a person and the people who rely on them to turn their life upside down. It is a great travesty of injustice and will continue as such MDU and MPS, Mafia protection racket ends being fair, honest, transparent and humble with proactive care and service, that till now I dont see they give and with disdain err any feedback of truth and facts of their service to them with blind pride superior-complex. I spit at them.

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  • I would be interested to know the outcome of this. It sounds like a nightmare, when the UK is desperate for GPs. Does the government know what is going on - where are all these extra GPs going to come from if there is one hurdle after another?

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  • This information about rejection of Medical indemnity is not heart breaking but also disgraceful. This is a wrong advantage they are taking of their strong position conferred by GMC to them that without indemnity no doctor can work. This is really awful!

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