Career Advice

Medical Defence Cover

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The GMC require all doctors in the UK to have adequate and appropriate insurance in place from the moment that they start practising.


What is medical defence cover and who should have it?

The GMC require all doctors in the UK to have adequate and appropriate insurance. It’s therefore important that you have appropriate insurance, covering the full scope of your work, in place prior to starting work at your NHS trust.

The cover that you’ll need is dependent on your individual circumstances. You can seek advice by speaking with a Medical Defence Organisation (MDO) or another professional insurance or indemnity provider.


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. 


NHS medical indemnity

All NHS Trusts & Health Boards in England, Scotland and Wales are members of the state-backed NHS medical schemes. 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. The BMA (British Medical Association) therefore 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. 


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.

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.


Note that this article is simply a guide and that we do not offer medical cover advice.



If you’re interested in working in the UK and would like to discuss the positions available in your specialty, and how we can assist you, please contact our team.