COVID-19 and indemnity cover: what you need to know
Since 2014, all registered nurses must have indemnity cover appropriate for their scope of practice to meet the costs of any clinical negligence compensation claim against them. They must confirm that they have such cover when they apply for admission to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register and every time that they revalidate.
Anyone working in the NHS has always had automatic indemnity cover supplied by their employer, whatever their role, temporary or permanent. This is supplied by the relevant state-backed schemes across the UK.
Since April 2019, the government has stepped in with a very similar scheme for everyone working in GP practices in England and Wales. This includes locums and bank staff, and covers organisations privately providing GP services, like walk-in centres and out of hours services. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, GP practices are expected to provide indemnity cover for their employees.
In early 2020, the government passed the Coronavirus Act 2020 which contains emergency powers in response to the pandemic. One section introduced an indemnity scheme called Clinical Negligence Scheme for Coronavirus (CNSC), for any pandemic-related claims that did not fall under any other scheme. Whilst other schemes should cover all situations, it was added to give peace of mind to those taking up new posts at short notice at the start of the pandemic.
While the existing state indemnity coverage is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland to that in England and Wales, the indemnity powers provided by the Coronavirus Act 2020 are comparable across the four nations. In all four nations, staff providing NHS services related to the COVID-19 outbreak will have indemnity under the Act, if not already covered by an existing indemnity arrangement.
Independent sector employees
Employers in the independent sector hold indemnity cover for their employees. If your employer is refusing to provide cover for you, please contact us for further support.
Unfortunately, due to the uncertainty of the risks, the RCN is unable to secure cover from its underwriters. Therefore, COVID-19 testing and vaccination are excluded from the RCN scheme.
If you undertake this work, it is very important that you ensure your contract with the business offering the private service is absolutely clear. The business must have adequate indemnity cover for your work, even if you are self-employed.
If you have concerns, please contact us for advice, including guidance on the type of contract term to be included.
Anyone who is not an employee of the pharmacy, such as those undertaking self-employed locum work, should ensure that they have appropriate cover provided through the pharmacy’s indemnity arrangements. The NHS Resolution website provides full details in its community pharmacy FAQs. If you are an employee you should have indemnity provided through your employment – check this if you are unsure.
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