Career Advice

Medical Defence Cover

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An Overview of Medical Defence Cover for Doctors

The GMC require all doctors in the UK to have adequate and appropriate insurance in place from the moment that they start practising. We’ve written this blog to give you an understanding of Medical Defence Cover and its importance. We’ll be covering the following topics:


What is Medical Defence cover and who should have it?

It is a GMC requirement for all doctors in the UK to have adequate and appropriate insurance. Therefore, as an international doctor relocating to the UK, it’s important that you have appropriate insurance in place prior to starting work at your NHS trust, covering the full scope of your practice.

The cover that you will need is very much dependent on your individual circumstances. You are able to gather advice on this by speaking with a Medical Defence Organisation (MDO) or another professional insurance or indemnity provider.

More information on MDO’s and insurance providers can be found below. 

NHS Medical Indemnity

All NHS Trusts & Health Boards in England, Scotland and Wales are members of the state-backed NHS medical schemes however, in Northern Ireland each HSC Trust assumes the role funded by the Department of Health.

What this means is that your NHS Trust will provide you with indemnity, but this will only cover NHS clinical work which is assigned to you as part of your NHS contract.

It is important to note that your NHS indemnity will not include:

  • Complaints against you specifically
  • Any trust disciplinary hearings
  • Criminal investigations
  • Some Coroner inquests
  • GMC hearings
  • Any private work that you undertake

With the above in mind, the BMA (British Medical Association) advise all doctors to:

  • Have a clear understanding of their contracted NHS duties and to arrange separate clinical negligence indemnity cover for any clinical work that they do outside the scope of these NHS indemnity schemes or arrangements.
  • Seek clarification from their employing organisation, or directly from the NHS indemnity schemes administrators if they are unsure whether they are fully covered by NHS indemnity.
  • Retain membership of an MDO to provide indemnity cover for clinical negligence related to non-NHS work, and non-clinical negligence issues. 

You can click here to view the BMA website. 

Types of Medical Defence

There are two types of Medical Defence:

  • Medical Indemnity Insurance
  • Medical Insurance 

The major difference between the two types is that medical insurance will only cover you whilst the policy is in place and for a defined period after. On the other hand, indemnity insurance works on the basis that any claim will be covered if the indemnity cover was in place at the time of the incident occurring. 

Medical Defence Providers

Medical Defence Organisations:

The three major MDOs (Medical Defence Organisations) in the UK offering indemnity cover for its members are:

All three MDOs are non-profit organisations and their memberships differ. So, to gain a better idea of what they can provide, please click on each of the options above taking you to their websites.

Other professional insurance or indemnity providers:

The vast majority of doctors in the UK opt to join the MDU, MDDUS or MPS. There are, however, other providers available in the private insurance market as well. Further information on these providers can be found online.

Please note that this article is simply a guide. We recommend that you consider each option before making your final decision. It is also a good idea to seek a professional’s opinion.



If you are interested in working in the UK, want to discuss available job opportunities or may have already begun your journey and need further advice, please contact our team today.