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Doctors can now get medical cannabis insurance at “fraction of the cost”

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The MCCS has teamed up with Towergate Insurance to lower costs for prescribing doctors.

The UK’s society of cannabis clinicians has secured the first master insurance policy for doctors, lowering costs and making it easier for them to prescribe.

The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS) has teamed up with Towergate Insurance on what is thought to be the first master policy for doctors prescribing in the UK.

All members can now access coverage at a fraction of the cost of other premiums available to make it more straightforward and affordable to begin prescribing. 

The development removes another barrier preventing patients from easily accessing unlicensed cannabis medicines in the UK

Doctors working for NHS trusts and health and social care bodies are provided with indemnity insurance through the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST), or similar.

As cannabis medicines are only available privately, doctors working outside of the NHS – often for the first time – need to have their own insurance in order to prescribe.

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 still need to be covered.

According to the MCCS, doctors report conflicting information about costs and availability of medical malpractice insurance to cover medical cannabis, with some being quoted over £4,000 per year.

This is another barrier which prevents doctors from taking the step to prescribe these medicines for patients in the UK.

Professor Mike Barnes, chair of the MCCS explained: “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.”

He added: “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.”

The Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance gives members £1,000,000 of coverage, with premiums calculated based on the number of weekly sessions.

Richard Cupit, head of business development at Towergate Insurance Brokers told Cannabis Health that the firm believes in the importance of cannabis as a medicine and hopes that taking this step would help shift perceptions and improve access to treatment.

“Access to cannabis-based medicines is vital for patients, but there has previously been a bit of a barrier to entry for prescribers, due to the stigma that still exists around medical cannabis in the eyes of many insurers,” said Cupit.

“I’m proud to partner with the MCCS and to be affiliated with the great work they are doing. The minimum premiums can be quite high in the insurance market for medical cannabis, but by working with the society and its members we have been able to offer their members cover at a fraction of the standard costs, which is something that we are really excited to be able to do.”

Cupit added: “We hope to help to change attitudes and perceptions of this vital medicine, increasing the number of doctors who see prescribing as a viable option and allow for wider access to treatment in the UK and beyond.”

The policy covers medicinal cannabis work only and doctors must complete the MCCS prescriber’s training course within three months of becoming a covered party.

Visit the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society for more information

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email sarah@prohibitionpartners.com / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag

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