This site is intended for health professionals only

New mental health legislation means GPs must be insured, says MDU

10 November 2008

Share this article

Doctors who assess the mental capacity of mental health patients must have insurance against any liabilities that may arise, under new legislation.

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) has warned that the regulations mean that doctors who are reliant on discretionary indemnity will not be eligible to carry out these assessments.

The Mental Capacity Regulations 2008, which came into effect on 3 November, set out the eligibility requirements for those who carry out assessments of patients who may have a mental disorder and who lack the capacity to consent, to determine whether it is appropriate to authorise the patient’s detention in a care home or hospital.

Dr Christine Tomkins, the MDU’s Deputy Chief Executive, commented: “These regulations clearly state that those carrying out assessments of patients must be insured and satisfy the relevant supervisory body that this is the case.

“Discretionary indemnity is not insurance as it only provides the right to ask for assistance and to have that request considered. We welcome the fact that the government has recognised that only an insurance contract provides the necessary assurance for patients that they will be compensated if they are negligently harmed.

The General Medical Council (GMC) requires UK doctors to be indemnified and is currently considering what amounts to adequate and appropriate indemnity arrangements.