Working as a medical cannabis clinician in the UK: finding insuranceApril 23, 2020 | IN INFORMATION | BY Kate Thorpe
*March 2021 Update: Members of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society can now access exclusive medical cannabis insurance under our low-cost Group policy. Please read our updated information here.
At The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society, we’re dedicated to providing straightforward guidance, information and support for clinicians wishing to prescribe medical cannabis. Doctors often come to us with questions about their professional indemnity and insurance coverage, with some insurers not including medical cannabis treatments in their packages.
In England, doctors working for NHS trusts and health and social care bodies are provided with indemnity insurance through the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST). Similar arrangements are in place for Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
Insurance for private practice
When it comes to being insured for prescribing medical cannabis, due to current prescribing restrictions, things are different. As medical cannabis in the UK is currently only available privately, doctors working outside of the NHS – often for the first time – have questions about how to arrange insurance and indemnity which covers this treatment.
The General Medical Council states that doctors working in private practice in the UK must have “adequate and appropriate insurance or indemnity arrangements in place covering the full scope of your medical practice”. This means that even if doctors are working privately within an NHS or health and social care body premises, they must still be covered.
Prof Michael Barnes, Chair of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society said, “Apart from two specific medications, Sativex and Epidiolex, medical cannabis – along with many other treatments – is at present classed as an unlicensed medicine. Doctors prescribing unlicensed products take full clinical responsibility for any consequences of the prescription and might not be covered by professional indemnity insurance. This is something that causes many clinicians concerns and prevents more widespread prescribing.
Medical cannabis is a safe treatment with often significant benefits and few side effects. Clinicians can be reassured that if they prescribe within the legal parameters then they are very safe – although they still need insurance cover.”
Finding insurance that covers medical cannabis prescribing
When you are looking for new insurance, which includes medical cannabis, as a doctor operating in the private sector for the first time, or you’re renewing your existing coverage, it’s important to choose your provider well.
We spoke to Richard Cupit, from the Medical Caring Professions Division at Towergate Insurance about their coverage for UK doctors.
“Towergate is one of the largest independent insurance brokers in the UK and our medical division has been arranging insurance for members of the medical and caring professions for over 100 years. As leading specialists in this field, we’re committed to supporting the UK’s doctors who are looking to prescribe medical cannabis to their patients.
At Towergate, we are able to offer competitive, bespoke and tailored insurances to both individuals and organisations in the medical cannabis sector, with coverage for all declared and agreed activities through our range of insurer partners.”
If doctors are already working privately, with insurance already in place, then it is important to check with your insurer that the changes in your scope of practice – i.e. starting to prescribe medical cannabis products – are included in your existing coverage.
The route to becoming a medical cannabis prescriber in the UK can be a complex one, with regulations and rules to follow to ensure you are on the right side of the law. From being aware of the guidelines on medical cannabis to following the route for controlled drugs, read our guide ‘How to prescribe medical cannabis’, available here.
To obtain a quote for insurance or for more information, contact Richard Cupit Cert CII, Head of Business Development – Medical at Towergate Insurance Brokers. You can contact Richard on 07870 548854 / 01438 735271 or by visiting www.towergateinsurance.co.uk.