‘You must take out adequate insurance or professional indemnity cover for any part of your practice not covered by an employer’s indemnity scheme, in your patients’ interests as well as your own.’ (GMC: Good Medical Practice, 2003)

The recent case of Irvine -v- General Medical Council [2017] EWHC 2038 (Admin) serves as a salient reminder to all clinicians of the need to have continuous indemnity cover in place for their practice. Section 44C of the Medical Act 2003 (as amended) provides that a person holding a licence to practise as a medical practitioner, and indeed practising as a medical practitioner, must have in force an indemnity arrangement for appropriate cover. For practitioners working solely for NHS trusts, appropriate cover will be provided by NHS Resolution (formerly the NHS LA) through the trust’s membership of the CNST scheme.

In very brief terms, Mr Irvine was found by the GMC (and confirmed on appeal) not to have had the appropriate cover in place for a five year period – Mr Irvine said any apparent gap in his indemnity cover was due to poor administrative practice. This was not accepted by the MTPS (Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service), or by the Administrative Court on appeal. Mr Irvine was found guilty of dishonesty and struck off the GMC register.

For those practitioners working in private practice, irrespective of whether they also have an NHS practice, separate indemnity cover must be arranged. This will include clinicians with practising privileges at private hospitals, even if those privileges are not currently being exercised.

It is the responsibility of the healthcare professional to ensure that appropriate indemnity cover is in place.