The Medical Defence Union (MDU) revealed it supported UK medical and dental members with 40,000 requests for advice and support in 2017, including over 1,000 case files about coroner’s inquiries. In 800 cases members needed help with regulatory, disciplinary or criminal investigations.
The figures, revealed in the MDU’s annual report for 2017, come at a time when doctors are under increasing scrutiny from an adversarial medico-legal climate.
Dr Christine Tomkins, MDU chief executive, said:
“Doctors are becoming more aware that they can be held accountable in a number of ways following an adverse incident. Recent high profile cases of doctors convicted for gross negligence manslaughter and the government and GMC reviews which followed are a reminder to doctors of the ever-present risk of a criminal investigation and prosecution. An error that leads to a patient’s death can set in motion a series of investigations not just by the police and coroner, but also by the GMC and the doctor’s employer for example.
“The MDU is the only medical defence organisation with a specialist in-house legal team expert in criminal law. We support doctors undergoing these difficult and often lengthy investigations and continue to push for changes to the procedure, highlighting the need to create a climate in which the need to learn lessons takes precedence over the rush to find someone to blame.”
Dr Paul Riordan-Eva, MDU chairman continued:
“Although the climate in which doctors work can often seem difficult, it’s important to point out that professional standards are very high and our members continue to provide excellent care to their patients.
“We are dedicated to ensuring members are not disadvantaged by the current climate. We have 50 expert doctors and dentists who give immediate medico-legal advice and assistance to members in difficulty, supported by our in-house team of expert lawyers. This means the MDU is in a strong position to support members should the worst happen.”
The MDU is a not-for-profit organisation wholly dedicated to our members’ interests. Our team is led and staffed by doctors with real-life experience of the pressures and challenges faced in practice.
We offer our members expert guidance, personal support and robust defence in addressing medico-legal issues, complaints and claims. Our customised services range from legal assistance to indemnity to appropriate CPD.
Dawn Boyall, Jessica Hammonds or Thenuka Mahendrarasa in the MDU’s press office
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