The Department of Health (DH) is planning a new state-backed indemnity scheme for general practice in England, Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, announced on 12 October. Speaking at the 2017 Royal College of GPs conference in Liverpool, Hunt said that scheme could launch by April 2019.
A factsheet from the DH, which describes the scheme as “subject to further work on relevant issues”, says the scheme will offer “clinical negligence cover to providers of GP services … through which the activities of individual GPs would be covered”.
“The cover would include the activities of practice staff including other medical professionals working for the practice in the provision of these contracted services,” it continues.
Responding to the announcement, Robbie Turner, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) director for England, said: “I know that the rising cost of clinical negligence is a great source of concern for pharmacists and I hope this change will make indemnity more affordable for pharmacists working in general practice in England.
“However, the RPS would like to see this provision extended to all pharmacists providing NHS services. This announcement is good news, and we will continue to work with NHS England to ensure that pharmacists will be covered in this scheme.”
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association noted the announcement, but expressed caution about whether such a scheme would fully protect pharmacists.
“Whether this provides any sort of cover for pharmacists working in general practice remains to be seen,” a PDA spokesperson said.
“In any event, the experience of our members has shown us that where the only cover in place is the employer’s, this can be an issue when the interests of the individual and the employer diverge.
“Pharmacists need to know if any cover is there to protect them or to protect their employer, because at times this is not the same thing, and to discover this at the time of a claim potentially leaves pharmacists exposed.
“Pharmacists should have their own cover for potential claims, including but certainly not limited to clinical negligence, where there is no conflict of interest and where the insurance is covering them as individuals.”