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RCN indemnity cover change makes sense

Dr Ben Wyatt’s opinion piece addresses some important issues about indemnity cover, but I hope that I can allay some of the concerns he raises .

Cutting nurse indemnity cover will backfire

The change to the RCN’s indemnity scheme only affects work undertaken, during the course of their employment, by nurses employed by GPs. This step ensures responsibility for clinical negligence claims rests with the employer, and places all RCN members on an equal footing. It is not right that, uniquely in the healthcare economy, general practice and medical defence bodies are able to shift the costs of claims on to individual employees.

The other potential difficulties Dr Wyatt raises are not real problems, and RCN membership still provides excellent value for money.

Nurses will continue to have access to the RCN’s legal advice and representation scheme. The same scheme covers the nurse if they are referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and our indemnity scheme continues cover in the case of voluntary work or Good Samaritan acts. Self-employed and locum nurses remain covered for their work. 

Most GPs have robust arrangements in place to indemnify themselves for their own actions and the actions of their staff. If the defence bodies now choose to take a closer look at the quality of the training and support GPs provide before asking their employees to take on a range of clinical tasks, then surely that is a welcome step forward.

From Chris Cox

Director of legal services, Royal College of Nursing