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Where NHS indemnity won’t protect you as an IMG

Post date: 02/03/2023 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 02/03/2023

Rob Hendry, Medical Director of Medical Protection explains what NHS indemnity is and why you need further protection as a working practitioner in the UK.


Having the right indemnity and protection is vital for any medical professional. As an international medical graduate (IMG) coming to the UK to work in the NHS, you will receive NHS indemnity through your employer. However, even with this, many doctors choose to get additional medical defence protection. This is because, although NHS indemnity covers you for clinical negligence claims arising from the duties listed in your NHS contract, there are many situations where it won’t protect you. Let’s take a closer look at these.

Why NHS indemnity exists

It’s important to remember that the purpose of NHS indemnity is to ensure patients have access to compensation if clinical negligence has been proven. It’s not designed to protect the personal interests of doctors.

Work that falls outside of your NHS role

It’s common for doctors to undertake duties that aren’t primarily concerned with prevention, diagnosis and treatment of NHS patients. Examples of these include:

  • Any private practice work you take on alongside your NHS role
  • Any ‘category 2’ work you undertake in hospitals, such as cremation forms and examinations/reports on patients for use in courts or by insurance companies and the Department for Work and Pensions
  • Any ‘fee-paying’ or ‘chargeable’ services undertaken while in general practice, such as private travel vaccines, insurance reports or HGV medicals
  • Any clinical trials not covered under legislation
  • Any instances where you stop at a roadside accident or carry out other ‘Good Samaritan’ acts.
Clinical negligence claims arising from these activities are not covered by NHS indemnity, which is why you will need additional indemnity or insurance in addition to your NHS protection.

To help avoid any problems arising, make sure you fully understand what your contracted NHS duties are. That way, you can arrange separate cover for any clinical work that falls outside of the scope of your NHS indemnity.

Understanding other issues you may face

There are many professional challenges that you could encounter which NHS indemnity can’t help you with. These issues can have potentially serious and career-limiting consequences, and include:

  • Dealing with complaints, perhaps involving the Ombudsman
  • Giving evidence to Coroner’s inquests or fatal accident inquiries
  • Being referred for investigation by the GMC
  • Employer disciplinary proceedings
  • Police investigations and criminal prosecutions.

What you can do to stay protected

If you only intend to undertake NHS contracted work, there’s no legal requirement to add additional medical defence cover. When starting a new job in the NHS, speak with your employer or NHS indemnity scheme administrators. They’ll help you understand whether you are fully covered by NHS indemnity for the role you are employed to do.

Beyond clinical negligence claims, it’s very likely that you’ll face some kind of medicolegal problem during your career. With this in mind, it’s reassuring to know that you’re protected for every eventuality and additional medical defence cover is recommended for all doctors.

Most UK doctors choose to arrange this through a medical defence organisation (MDO) such as Medical Protection. With Medical Protection by your side, your career, reputation and financial security are in safe hands should an incident occur, thanks to protection that goes far beyond your NHS indemnity.

You can find out more about the role of MDOs and the benefits of Medical Protection membership you will have access to from the day you join.



About the author

Rob Hendry is Medical Director at Medical Protection, working with members around the world. He has a particular interest in supporting doctors who move between different countries and has championed Medical Protection’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy.

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