Patients left at risk by uninsured dentists
 

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Patients left at risk by uninsured dentists

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Patients left at risk by uninsured dentists

 

Patients left at risk by uninsured dentists

Patients are at risk of not receiving compensation if they are negligently harmed by a doctor or dentist warned the Medical Defence Union (MDU).

Under the current system of medical and dental indemnity, doctors and dentists are still not required to have insurance.

The medical defence organisation made the comments as a consultation by the General Dental Council (GDC), on the requirement for professional indemnity for GDC registrants came to an end.

The General Medical Council (GMC) also has the power to specify how doctors should be indemnified.

So far neither regulator has insisted that this is only through insurance, though they have the power to do so.

The MDU says many patients mistakenly assume their doctor or dentist is insured in the same way as their car or house, but this is not the case.

Dr Christine Tomkins, deputy chief executive of the MDU, said: ‘Many doctors and dentists are still reliant on discretionary indemnity and if the discretionary provider exercises its discretion not to assist with a claim patients who have been negligently harmed may not be able to recover compensation due to them.

‘Many patients, and even the doctors and dentists reliant on discretionary indemnity, may not realise that it only gives the right to seek indemnity, but not to receive it. We are aware of cases where some practitioners have not been provided with discretionary indemnity and patients have not been compensated as a result.

‘Patients who are severely damaged by medical negligence can be awarded damages of thousands of pounds and awards for severe injuries, such as neurological damage, can be well over £4 million. It is imperative that patients who have been negligently harmed know that they will receive the compensation due to them.

‘In the current medico-legal climate, with the cost of claims set to increase even more, as a result of a number of legal judgments and changes, we think it is wrong to allow discretionary indemnity for something as important as medical negligence claims.

"The GMC and GDC have the opportunity to bring doctors and dentists into line with other healthcare practitioners such as opticians and chiropractors who have to be insured, because their regulators have taken advice and do not believe discretionary indemnity gives adequate protection for patients. In most other EU countries insurance is either compulsory or recommended.

"For each medical or dental professional to have a contract of insurance and the certainty that successful negligence claims that come within the policy will be paid is indisputably in the interests of patients and of doctors and dentists. We hope the GMC and GDC, which are there to protect patients, seize the opportunity to insist that doctors and dentists must have insurance for clinical negligence claims."

The MDU, which has over 50 per cent of doctors and 30 per cent of dentists as members, is the only medical defence organisation to provide members with a regulated clinical negligence insurance policy, for claims up to £10 million. It points out that insurance also offers a range of safeguards for policyholders and patients, including regulation by the Financial Services Authority (FSA); access to the Financial Ombudsman Service; the Financial Services Compensation Scheme which pays claims in the event that an insurer fails; as well as rights for patients in the event a medical or dental professional is declared bankrupt or dies with an insolvent estate. Discretionary indemnity, which is not regulated by the FSA, does not have these safeguards.

- Recent amendments to the Medical Act 1983 and Dentists Act 1984 gave the GMC and GDC powers to make rules requiring all registrants to protect patients by having adequate and appropriate indemnity for clinical negligence claims.

- The MDU is a mutual, not for profit, organisation owned by our members who include over 50 per cent of the UK's hospital doctors and GPs. Established in 1885, we were the world's first medical defence organisation. We defend the professional reputations of our members when their clinical performance is called into question. Our benefits of membership include insurance for claims of clinical negligence

 Posted on : Thu 19th - Mar - 2009

 

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