Is My GP/Doctor Insured?
The way in which GPs (doctors) in the UK are insured against potential clinical or medical negligence claims changes from today (1st April 2019). GPs no longer have to pay for their own insurance cover every year; instead this will be backed by the UK government. Not everything is covered by the new scheme. Whether your GP is covered for any particular issue depends on what has happened.
For free legal advice get in touch with our Medical Negligence Solicitors.
How Does the New Scheme Work?
In most situations, your GP will be covered for a medical negligence claim. The new state-backed scheme applies to all NHS negligence claims where the treatment occurred after 1st April 2019. This will work in a similar way to how cases against NHS hospitals have been managed.
That said, the new scheme doesn’t insure GPs if they do private-paying clinical work or provide treatment as a ‘good Samaritan’. In these cases (and for other types of work outside of front-line treatment), GPs still need to take out separate insurance. However, they don’t usually result in medical negligence claims.
Is this Good News for Patients?
The short answer is ‘yes’. If we put aside some of the more technical issues (which don’t directly affect patients making medical negligence claims), then the advantages are:
- Greater certainty. There is very little chance of insurance being withdrawn during a medical negligence Whilst this is rare, it can happen because the existing insurers provide ‘discretionary’ insurance giving them the power to withdraw cover. The reasons for doing so are confidential and this usually stops a case dead in its tracks.
- Greater consistency. Since we will now be dealing with a single insurer (NHS Resolution), we expect them to apply their existing approach to both hospital and GP negligence claims.
- Greater synergy. In some medical negligence cases, both the GP and hospital involved may have been at fault. Under the previous schemes, Medical Negligence Solicitors had to deal with NHS Resolution and at least one of a selection of medical insurers. This should now become less of a problem and eventually stop. If so, it should help to make medical negligence cases easier to run.
New System is Limited or Still Unclear in Some Respects
- The new system also doesn’t cover the costs of General Medical Council investigations into a GP’s fitness to practice or if they require legal advice at an I This could cause indirect problems with gathering evidence before a patient instructs their own Solicitors as different insurers adopt differing approaches.
- It’s unclear what will happen where a GP blames the hospital or vice versa. Normally, the same advisors cannot act for both in these circumstances although the insurance itself will not be affected.
- It’s currently unclear how historic cases will be dealt with. They may be adopted by the new scheme or continue under existing insurance. We hope that the position is clarified quickly.
What Should Patients Do?
The new scheme is a positive development for patients and also helps to reduce the cost of obtaining insurance for doctors. Patients can now be more confident that their GP will have comprehensive insurance cover if things go wrong with their NHS treatment.
If you’re dissatisfied with your NHS treatment, the first step is to talk to your GP (doctor). They will have an internal complaints process (under the NHS’s Duty of Candour). If you’re unhappy with the way in which the investigation has been conducted, you can ask the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman to investigate that.
In some cases, it’s appropriate to make a claim for compensation to help you live with the effects of negligent clinical or medical treatment.
For free legal advice call our Medical Negligence Solicitors
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.