Founded in 1892, the Medical Protection Society was initially known as the (London and Counties) Medical Protection Society – within two years it had more than 1,000 members.
At the end of the 19th century, doctors and dentists were operating in an increasingly difficult professional environment. They had to deal with libellous accusations by patients and an increasing number of unregistered and unqualified quacks. In the 1880s, a number of high profile negligence and criminal cases made the headlines, and it soon became clear that individual doctors did not have the resources to defend themselves in these cases.
The need for strength in numbers was obvious. The benefits provided by the organisation gradually grew – at first membership only offered discretionary indemnity to fund members’ legal costs – but over time this expanded to include any damages and costs awarded in the case. In the 1940s the Medical Protection Society started providing protection to members in other parts of the world.
The medical and dental professions have changed dramatically over the last 120 years. The founding members of the Medical Protection Society would not recognise the complex environment in which doctors and dentists now work, and would be baffled by the legal problems that result. However, what they would recognise is that, just as in 1892, doctors and dentists need the Medical Protection Society as much as ever – a mutual organisation where fellow professionals use their judgement to provide a flexible range of benefits that meet the evolving needs of members.