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New indemnity rules could cost nurses £1,200 a year, warns union

The union Unite has rejected government plans to require health professionals to have indemnity insurance in order to practise, arguing that it could cost health visitors and school nurses £1,200 a year.

The legal move was recommended by a government-commissioned independent review in 2010 and is also a requirement of a European Union directive on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare. It is intended to ensure patients can seek compensation if harmed due to the negligence of healthcare professionals.

Unless self-employed, almost all health professionals are already covered by the indemnity of their employer under what is known in legal terms as “vicarious liability” and may also be covered by a separate scheme if they are a member of a union.

The government has stated that employer indemnity schemes “would be sufficient to meet” the new requirements.

A government consultation on its proposed legislation – known officially as the Health Care and Associated Professions (Indemnity Arrangements) Order 2013 – was held between 22 February and 17 May.

But Unite, which includes the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, has claimed that employers are increasingly refusing to provide its members with indemnity.

It argues that union schemes are designed merely as a “top up” to those provided by employers and, therefore, health professionals will be forced to pay for their own indemnity to be fully covered.  

In its formal response to the consultation, the union said: “Our members increasingly tell us that employers are refusing to provide them with cover and are insisting that they take out their own at their own cost.

“We consider that it should and indeed must be mandatory for employers to provide the appropriate cover for their employees as this is the best way to offer protection to the public.”

The union said it estimated the taking out personal indemnity cover would cost its members £50-£100 per month.

Unite professional officer Jane Beach added: “Many health professionals, buffeted by ever-rising living costs, won’t be able to pay this ‘tax’.”


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Readers' comments (13)

  • I suspect employers cannot avoid accepting vicarious liability for their employees!

    It is independent midwives who have a problem !
    Many currently practice without insurance as most insurance companies will not quote on the risk or offer cover at exorbitant cost !

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  • tinkerbell

    Nurses get ready to 'pop your purses open' yet again.

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  • tinkerbell

    soon there won't be any perks to this job not even a living wage, as we'll have more going out than we've got coming in, any one for a purple loan?

    Still maybe that's what they want, everyone to leave in their droves, save em the bother of paying out any redundancy money, so they've got more coming in than they're paying out. Kerching!

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  • This is a bit of non story. Most nurses should be already covered by their employer and/or union, so will not have to fork out anything extra. As has been stated, the only ones with a problem are independent practitioners. This has been a problem for them for years. The only 'new' issue is that they will no longer be allowed to practise without insurance. One could argue, that they should never have been allowed to practise without insurance and that some accomodation in providing them with appropriate insurance should have been found long ago.

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  • Doctors pay this via the bma and its tax deductible, what's the betting that if nurses have to do it too, that it will become non-tax deductible.

    Time for a change of career!

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  • I cannot afford the indemnity to work as a Locum unless I join that nursing union which I do not want to do!!

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  • michael stone

    'Jenny Jones | 20-May-2013 4:43 am

    I suspect employers cannot avoid accepting vicarious liability for their employees!'

    I agree - it seems odd that vicarious liability could be easily avoided: that would defeat its purpose. But trying to somehow get the cost (of the insurance) back from their staff, they could try.

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  • It is not just midwives who have to provide their own indemnity cover as the link below shows;

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  • It's about time that nurses get themselves ' Indemnity Insurance'.

    Especially as they will need to protect themselves against the probability of litigation, and safe guard their futures in nursing.

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  • This sounds like the opening shot of a new government campaign. Be prepared for more dirt to be flung our way. I suspect there will be a push to encourage patients/relatives to sue individual nurses. Vicarious liability won't matter soon. Expect more unpleasant news from this angle. Remember gov can only change the system by first destroying it.

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  • Anonymous | 20-May-2013 2:30 pm

    Re; Practice Nurses. Employers (GPs) will be required to cover this as they are vicariously liable for their employees. The problem will be for those who practise independently and are self employed, e.g independent midwives.

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  • It's a complex area but its part of the cross border directive so Government have no choice

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  • The NMC website says that it is needed at the point of registration otherwise they cannot register- does anyone know if this means newly qualified nurses and midwives, that is just completed their training and registering with the NMC will have to take out insurance individually until they get a post?
    !. Have I read and interpreted it incorrectly/correctly?
    2. it is no use advising me to ask the NMC as they give wrong/conflicting advice so I would not trust their answer anyway.
    3. Is it badly stated?
    4. If this is correct where will just ex- students find the money from - they can barely afford the registration fee at the point of completion
    4. Surely (I say in hope) they would not need insurance just to initally register
    5. Is this what all the other practitioners do outside of nursing and midwifery - get them selves insured then register.
    6 Would insurers insure someone who was not on the NMC register (potential acting fraudulently with insurance but no registration for example).
    Its all so barmy lately, I will believe anything.

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