Social Audit Ltd
P O Box 111 London NW1 8XG
Telephone/Fax 44 (0)171 586 7771


Mr Roy Alder, Head of Executive Support
Medicines Control Agency
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane
London SW8 5NQ

20 November 1998

Dear Mr Alder,

Personal indemnity for CSM members

If I remember rightly, the CSM has for some years indemnified individual members against legal actions arising from their work, and I am writing to ask if you could give me some further information about the arrangements that now apply.

Is this indemnity provided under a commercial insurance policy and, if so, could you please provide me with a copy of its terms, indicating also the extent of cover and the total premium paid? If cover is provided under some government scheme, perhaps you could let me have sight of the terms agreed. I particularly want to know whether cover is available to CSM members when questions of negligence might arise.

This request doesn't really come out of the blue; it's more of a further thought about the extent of the Committee's responsibilities in relation to public accountability. On the one hand, the very existence of indemnity arrangements (assuming they are necessary) underlines how CSM decisions (and omissions) relate to risks to which individual patients (and doctors) may be exposed. On the other hand, there is the question of how fair it is for Committee members to assume such responsibilities, when they are not personally accountable - and when, collectively, they permit themselves 'in the public interest' to abstain even from responding to straightforward requests about the bases of their judgements. I can't reconcile the two.

I'd be grateful for any information you might be able to provide.

Yours sincerely,
Charles Medawar


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