As a psychologist, you will be aware that it is a condition of your Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) registration that you have in place a Professional Indemnity Arrangement (PIA). As an NHS psychologist, your PIA is NHS Indemnity. This means that your employer should accept full financial liability where negligent harm has occurred and will pay the costs of defending or settling any claim that is made, even if that claim is made directly against you.
However, in its document NHS Indemnity Arrangements for Clinical Negligence Claims in the NHS, Resolution NHS clearly states that ‘NHS bodies are not financially responsible for the defence of staff involved in disciplinary proceedings conducted by statutory bodies… (including, by definition, HCPC) …and it is the responsibility of the practitioner concerned to take out professional liability cover against such an eventuality.’
So, as a psychologist, employed by and working wholly for the NHS, you don’t need an insurance policy to cover claims for damages (except, perhaps, in some fairly remote circumstances), but you do need insurance in case of a complaint to HCPC which might ultimately lead to a disciplinary hearing and you incurring costs associated with this. This is important because, in our experience, complaints to professional bodies and regulators are the biggest single source of claims under professional liability policies in this sector.
Is there a policy that acknowledges the reduced risk due to NHS indemnity?
Typically, insurers tend to combine all the relevant types of insurance cover under a single policy, so your only option has been to buy the policy and pay the premium or take a chance. Until now!
The &Breathe team at Partners& recognise that the risks faced by NHS psychologists are different (because of NHS Indemnity) from those working outside of the NHS and have introduced an alternative policy to augment the NHS Indemnity specifically for this distinct group. You will still get the full policy wording (endorsed to recognise that NHS Indemnity takes precedence) to cover those remote risks* we mentioned earlier, but at a more equitable price.
*Examples of remote risks that aren’t covered by NHS indemnity
- You are attending a self-funded psychology conference as a delegate and, while there, you are responsible for causing a trip accident that leads to legal action being taken against you. You are there in your capacity as a psychologist, but it is unlikely to be seen by your employer as in connection with your employment.
- One evening, in your own time, you post something on a psychology forum about another psychologist which turns out to be defamatory and the other party pursue you for damages – again, unlikely to be covered under NHS Indemnity.
- You step forward, as a psychologist, to assist with an emergency, for example, threatened suicide and something goes wrong, for which you are pursued. These types of Good Samaritan acts would not be covered under NHS Indemnity.
What if I decide to enter the private sector?
If you leave the NHS and/or decide to do some work in the private sector, we can simply upgrade your policy to our standard policy and remove the endorsement in respect of your private work usually at no extra cost until your next renewal date.
For more information, or to speak with an expert about your wider insurances, contact the &Breathe team.