Today, the Department of Health and Social Care is launching a consultation seeking the public’s views on the regulation of clinical negligence indemnity cover. All regulated healthcare professionals are required to hold appropriate clinical negligence cover for the risks of their practice, covering the costs of defending clinical negligence claims and damages awarded to patients. This is a condition of registration in the UK for all regulated healthcare professionals, and in the case of medical practitioners, a condition of licence under s.44C of the Medical Act 1983.
The current state-backed clinical negligence scheme for trusts provides cover for professionals working in NHS trusts, and it is anticipated that a future state-backed scheme will provide clinical negligence indemnity cover for NHS general practice in England. The Secretary of State announced his intention to develop the scheme in a written ministerial statement on 12 October 2017, Official Report, column 27WS. The Welsh Government are also planning to introduce a state-backed scheme for general practice indemnity.
Regulated healthcare professionals who are not covered by state-backed indemnity schemes are indemnified either through membership of a discretionary indemnity provider, such as a medical defence organisation, or by holding contracts of insurance with commercial insurers. Discretionary indemnity providers are not subject to financial conduct or prudential regulation.
The consultation will consider whether regulated healthcare professionals who will not be covered by any state-backed scheme should continue to be permitted to hold unregulated discretionary indemnity cover.
The Government’s objectives are to ensure patients’ access to appropriate compensation in the unfortunate event of them suffering physical injury as a result of clinical negligence, and that healthcare professionals hold stable and sufficient cover enabling the costs of legitimate claims to be met. This will provide regulated healthcare professionals with greater clarity and confidence about the security and terms of their cover.
The consultation will be open for 12 weeks. Following consideration of responses to this consultation, if the Government are minded to introduce regulation, the Department will consult on the options for such regulation. I will inform the House of the Government’s response to the consultation when it is completed.