However the Department of Health has warned GPs that they may not be covered for any claims that occur between purchasing the reduced cover and the time the Government scheme is introduced – which will be April 2019 at the earliest.
This means that GPs would need to purchase additional cover between now and then, at the cost of £500 to £1,500 a year. The MDU stated that, ‘We would expect much of the cost of claims arising from your year of membership to be assumed by the state-backed scheme, and so we are providing the benefits of membership relating to clinical negligence claims arising from such work on a “transitional basis” until such a scheme is established.’
However the Department of Health has stated the Government doesn’t plan to include run-off cover in the scheme so any GPs who require claims-made or claims-paid indemnity policies will need to purchase this cover separately until the scheme is introduced. They declared that, ‘Any GP purchasing an indemnity product on a reduced cover basis should make themselves fully aware of the terms under which it is being offered, taking into consideration how they will cover themselves after the period of cover has expired and the cost of run-off cover.’
The Medical Protection Society has also criticised the MDU’s decision to launch a new scheme at a time when ‘crucial details are unknown’.
Simon Kayll, CEO at the MPS, said, ‘While the MDU offer may be appealing at first glance, GPs should understand that they are being given a different indemnity product, not a discount on their current arrangement. The statement from the Department of Health confirms this. MDU members have been given little choice but to move onto a different product and pay additional fees at the end of their membership to ensure they are fully protected from claims that could still arise from their time with the MDU.’
The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland chief executive Chris Kenny also criticised their decision to offer this cover telling members that, 'The MDU’s “transitional benefits” are not remotely comparable to the gold standard occurrence-based membership offered by MDDUS.
The average claim takes around three years to report after the incident that caused it, and another two years to manage through the legal process, so we think MDU members will see little practical value from this new product and, as the Government statement makes clear, GPs will be hit with an unknown bill for run-off cover as well.
MDDUS members know they can place their trust in us to do the right thing. We will not sell them short with an ill-thought out and second-rate membership offering that places them at individual risk.'