Anticipating Updates In Indemnity Policy: Our Predictions On What The DHSC's Survey Findings Will Change


Time to read: 4-min read

The Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) recent survey on insurance coverage has raised a number of questions about the impact it could have on the medical indemnity and insurance landscape.

This survey was released in September last year to gather insights and opinions from healthcare professionals on regulated insurance and discretionary indemnity arrangements for clinical negligence cover.

In essence, it wanted to find out whether medical professionals should be required to have indemnity or insurance coverage, by evaluating the financial implications of having a policy, assessing the need for patient protection and exploring any potential alternative approaches.

The results of this survey are likely to have a big impact on the industry, and many healthcare professionals are now questioning what types of changes the survey’s results could bring about.

So, as leaders in the field of medical indemnity ourselves, we thought we’d throw our hat in the ring and share our predictions.

In this blog post, we will look at the options before sharing our expert advice on how to navigate any upcoming changes successfully.

Discretionary indemnity could become a thing of the past

There are two main types of medical indemnity coverage that healthcare professionals are typically protected by: discretionary and contract-certain.

In simple terms, discretionary indemnity refers to the indemnity provided at the discretion of the insurer – normally a Medical Defence Organisation (MDO) – where payments for claims will be at the discretion of the MDO.

On the other hand, contract-certain indemnity ensures that indemnity payments are contractually obligated and guaranteed to be provided, as long as they meet the terms of the policy.

One of the key questions the DHSC’s survey is looking to answer is: does discretionary indemnity promote accountability amongst medical professionals and actually protect patients? Or would making contract-certain insurance policies mandatory be more effective?

We think the latter is the better option.

Will indemnity insurance become mandatory?

Back in 2018, the Department of Health and Social Care launched a consultation paper due to concerns about the stability of the current forms of indemnity cover.

This cited key issues with discretionary indemnity and highlighted the government’s desire to move towards a new form of legislation – one that ensured all regulated UK-based healthcare professionals who weren’t covered by a state-backed indemnity scheme held appropriate cover, supervised by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority with the protection of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Having an appropriate, mandatory insurance policy in place for each healthcare professional will not only ensure that healthcare practitioners have the financial resources to compensate patients in cases of medical negligence or malpractice, but it will also foster a culture of responsibility among medical professionals.

But what exactly does ‘appropriate’ cover look like? This is another key question that the government will be looking to answer.

In our opinion, ‘appropriate’ indemnity cover should be defined as a non-discretionary insurance policy that covers medical professionals for treating patients in the past (on a contingency basis), present and future (irrespective of retirement), and we hope any changes brought about through the DHSC’s survey results will echo this belief.

There will be an increased focus on risk management

As a medical professional, you will be all too familiar with the phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’, and this is a mantra likely to be leaned on once again when the DHSC’s survey results are published.

One of the major things that are likely to come out is an increased emphasis on the importance of risk management in healthcare practice.

Regardless of any specific policy-related changes, there is likely to be an increased focus on training, education and professional development for healthcare professionals, aimed at equipping you with the skills and knowledge required to prevent medical negligence or malpractice.

Our advice to healthcare professionals

If you are concerned about how the results of the DHSC's survey may affect you or your existing policy, here is what we recommend you do while waiting for the results:

  • Stay informed and up to date by regularly checking official sources like the DHSC website, as well as our own news and insights
  • Review and assess your current coverage to look for any gaps
  • Evaluate the financial implications of any potential changes that could come into effect
  • Prioritise patient safety
  • Implement effective risk management strategies
  • Seek professional advice from an insurance broker you can trust

Get in touch

At Howden Medical Indemnity, we help healthcare professionals find contract-certain medical indemnity and insurance policies that not only provide peace of mind but also let you focus on what you do best: helping people.

To find out more about our services, our specialist team of brokers are always on hand to help. Simply give us a call on +44 117 205 1820 or drop us a message and we’d be happy to answer any questions or queries you might have.