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Is removing RCN indemnity insurance really a small change?

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17 February, 2014

I was shocked last week by the RCN’s decision to remove indemnity insurance from most nurses.

The RCN described this as a “small” change.

While it may seem a small change to the college I am sure many nurses will be astounded to hear that they will no longer benefit from this cover.

I joined the RCN in 1981 as a student nurse. The three main unions at the time RCN, COHSE and NUPE were eager to attract our membership and our fees. But the main attraction of the RCN was the offer of indemnity insurance. After all what would you do if someone sued you?

Even when I became aware that vicarious liability meant my employer would cover me in most circumstances I held onto my membership. In the back of my mind was an insecurity that if it indemnity insurance was offered by the RCN as a membership benefit then it must be important. Perhaps that just demonstrated my naivety, but throughout my clinical career I maintained my membership because it offered me this reassurance.

From 1 July 2014, work undertaken by RCN members who are employed – for example by the health service or an independent healthcare provider – will be excluded from the indemnity scheme’s coverage. Self-employed members will remain covered, but aesthetic practice will also be excluded from because of the high claims risk associated with this area of practice.

I appreciate the RCN needs to tidy up its policies and finances and has concerns that some employers were passing on claims relating to its members to the college, but it has failed to explain why it offered a benefit that was actually of no benefit to most members in the first place.

It seems to me that buying into union membership is a bit like choosing an energy supplier. You have to look at carefully at all the benefits before typing in your bank details.

If you want to know more about vicarious liability click here.

Readers' comments (9)

  • I was also a member of the RCN from being a student nurse and was also attracted to them as they offered indemnity.How ever they removed the indemnity insurance for practice nurses a year ago.I cancelled my registration as did many of my collegues in primary care,more nurses should follow suit as a form of protest.

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  • Yes, I shall cancel my registration to RCN. I'm also contemplating finishing with nursing full stop. As it looks like I shall have to work into my old age. I shall find alternative employment now, while I'm relatively fit. The thought of doddering around a busy Ward in my late sixties fills me with dread.

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  • Bet they don't reduce their subscription as well as our benefits

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  • I have already cancelled my membership because of this. I have also asked the RCN to offer me compensation due to the mis-selling of their "Indemnity Insurance" as something which all nurses needed to have on their own account. Now it seems it was never necessary, therefore we have been lied to and exploited. I think we all need to take this further legally.

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  • what a minefield...

    Just had a brief look at RCN, Unison + Unite's webpages respectively on:
    http://www.rcn.org.uk/support/legal/indemnityscheme

    https://www.unison.org.uk/upload/sharepoint/Policies/UNISON%27s%20Professional%20Indemnity%20Cover%20for%20health%20staff.pdf

    http://archive.unitetheunion.org/sectors/health_sector/pli.aspx


    I think it doesn't matter what union you're in, all the similar small print applies. Options could be to change or leave your union (if your in one).
    If you want to be covered, and your employer isn't covering you (under vicarious liability) then you might need professional indemnity cover, such as Medical Defence Insurance, especially if you're self-employed and/or working in one of the exempted areas.
    People could gamble and not have insurance.
    Alternatively everyone can leave the professions.

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  • RCN is NOT a union but a professional college.

    If you have a problem, THEY decide whether they want to represent you or not.

    They charge way over what other unions with similar indemnity schemes have.

    NUPE and COHSE are now part of either GMB or UNISON.

    GMB and UNISON have their own indemnity insurance for nurses which is BETTER than the RCN.

    GMB and UNISON will represent you whether you are right or wrong, as they believe that everyone has the right for represensation.

    They are also the ONLY body of people who are campaigning for pension rights, against zero hours, unfairness at work, to maintain womens rights (UKIP want to abolish maternity pay and rights as they said women who have had children are not as good workers as men). They are the only people who represent us.

    So.....what are you still in the RCN for? Free diary? (GMB and UNISON give you that as well!)

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  • Anonymous | 23-Feb-2014 8:47 am

    RCN has both royal professional college and trade union status. the information can be found in their statute.

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  • 23 Feb 10:51 am

    OK, correction then. RCN is not a REAL union. Status means nothing if they do not believe in fair representation for all. They are quick enough to take your money, sometimes for many years, but still decide on whether they will represent you or not. That is not what a real union would do.

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  • Most nurses were members of the RCN for the indemnity insurance.

    I predict a mass exodus following the decision to remove it.

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