By October 2013, all nurses and midwives will be required to hold a policy of professional indemnity insurance in order to be registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Council. This is the result of a European Union Directive requiring all healthcare professionals to hold policies of insurance. The Department of Health held a consultation earlier this year and plans to introduce the Health Care and Associated Professions (Indemnity Arrangements) Order 2013 later this year.
There are presently 8 statutory healthcare regulators responsible for approximately 1.4 healthcare professionals. Of those 8 regulators only the NMC and the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) do not have either a legal or regulatory requirement for registrants to hold indemnity insurance. Regulators such as the General Medical Council and General Dental Council already require their registrants to hold policies of indemnity insurance and a failure to do so can result in fitness to practise proceedings being brought.
The new legislation will require all Nurses and Midwives who advise, treat or care for patients to have appropriate indemnity arrangements in place. The NMC provided a detailed response to the Department of Health consultation in which it set out its proposals for governing the new requirements. The NMC proposes to introduce a new self declaration for registrants to complete upon registration, renewal and readmission confirming that appropriate insurance will be in place whilst they are in practise. The NMC has also made it clear that they intend to treat a failure to hold such insurance as a serious matter. They propose to have systems in place whereby Nurses and Midwives who do not have satisfactory arrangements in place can be refused registration or removed from the register.
In practical terms, the new requirements should not impact greatly upon the majority of those within the Nursing profession. While there is not presently a statutory requirement for Nurses and midwives to hold indemnity insurance, the NMC has long recommended that such arrangements are made. It is noted by the NMC that the majority of registered nurses and midwives are already covered by suitable insurance policies held by their employers. That said, it will be the responsibility of all nurses and midwives to satisfy themselves that suitable arrangements are in place.
The NMC’s consultation response does however note that there are approximately 3,000 self-employed nurses currently practising in the UK and that during 2011-2012, 170 individuals indicated the NMC their intention to practise as independent midwives. Those nurses and midwives in private and independent practise will need to ensure that any existing professional indemnity policies they currently hold comply with the new legislation or, if necessary, arrange a suitable policy moving forwards.
The NMC have indicated that they will be producing further guidance to registrants later this year, which will include details of their own policy in indemnity insurance.
By Carl Johnson, Partner specialising Professional Discipline & Regulation