This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

A faulty production line

Sharp rise in negligence claims against practice nurses, says MDU

The number of clinical negligence claims against practice nurses have risen sharply over the past decade, according to the Medical Defence Union (MDU).

Only two nurse practitioner members reported clinical negligence claims to the MDU in 2005 but climbed to 25 in 2015, the medical indemnity provider said.

MDU found that wrong or delayed diagnosis was the most common issue featured, featuring in 40% of claims and 30% of complaints. Other common reasons included delayed referrals and prescribing errors.

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Beverley Ward said the rise may be linked to practice nurses taking on a wider clinical responsibility.

She said: ‘Many practices have devolved more responsibility to nurse practitioners in their team to cope with the increasing demand.

’However, in taking on roles such as assessing and diagnosing patients, prescribing medicines, and running minor injury clinics, nurse practitioners are also at an increased risk of patients holding them individually accountable if something goes wrong.’

The MDU could not provide figures on how the total number of nurse practitioner members had developed over the ten-year period.

It comes as Pulse has reported on increasing fees for GP practices covering practice nurses’ indemnity bills.

This included one practice nurse whose monthly indemnity bill was higher than their salary, while another GP practice was facing a £7,000 increase to cover indemnity for one nurse.


Readers' comments (6)

  • Risk does not respect organisational boundaries, nor role boundaries.

    For the whole population, the total per capita predicted liabilities for the NHS Litigation Authority for secondary care alone exceeds the annual per capita budget for primary care.

    As work shifts from secondary care into the community, so does risk. As workforce shortages and financial pressures drive skill mix, risk transfers to other members of the team. These are two big shifts in risk.

    Indemnity costs are rising at a greater rate than inflation. This cost pressure alongside so many other pressures can break primary care. Indemnity is a wicked issue that needs to be tackled by DH.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Someone ask Hunt if he had an opinion on this he's clueless about it. Agree 100% with previous comment

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Surely this is to be expected. The rates will increase even further as time goes on. Welcome to the real world.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Crown indemnity for primary care. Obvious answer to most people.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Is it not time to leave all this behind? How do dentists, accountants and others work?
    Is the practice of medicine becoming impossible in this country due to litigation? OOH is an example.
    I just stopped doing the 6 sessions a month because I had to do 2 to 3 months before I broke even.
    I just hope imposed Contracts, litigation etc will just stop people becoming doctors in this war zone of medicine.
    Our leaders talk about wars and battles, 'Our fightback has begun' Chaand says.
    I, for one, did not become a doctor to conduct wars, wage battles and fight-backs and endure penance.
    So I have gone. Good luck to the warriors left behind.
    They need to ask themselves, is this what medicine is about? If it is about war in the UK, do you want to be fighting all your life?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • best thing would be for no one to practice, no one is a saint therefore should we all go home?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say