These are a vital part of your physiotherapy education. You may experience placements in a wide range of health, education and social care settings. Where you do your placement might affect what indemnity arrangements are in place. You university is instrumental in arranging and/or approving your student placements that are a formal part of your pre-registration programme. You may also choose to do work experience voluntarily by yourself in your spare time, and in this case you are responsible for finding out if it will be covered under the CSP scheme.
Your placement provider is responsible for your safety whilst on placement and any injuries you may sustain yourself whilst on placement. This will be covered by the placement provider’s Employers’ Liability insurance which is a legal requirement. How your placement provider covers their liability for any injury you cause your patients whilst on placement will depend on the placement setting. Here’s how medical malpractice indemnity works in the common types of practice placement setting:
Placements with 'employers'.
a: NHS settings.
You do not need to worry about placements in any UK NHS setting. The NHS has a very specific type of insurance structure: in England this is called the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST)). There are similar schemes in Scotland (Clinical Negligence and Other Risks Insurance Scheme -CNORIS), Wales (Welsh Risk Pool Service (WRPS)) and Northern Ireland (Clinical Negligence Central Fund (CNCF)).
b: Football Clubs
You must take special care when undertaking placements with football clubs and should talk this through with your clinical placement co-ordinator. From 1st July 2015 the CSP PLI scheme no longer covers claims arising from the treatment of certain types of professional footballer. We understand that Clubs have their own scheme in place to cover their employees but we do not know if this covers students on placement. Where Clubs choose not to include student placements within their corporate covers, students are restricted to working only with the players not affected by the CSP exclusion.
c: The MOD and military units.
You must take special care when undertaking placements with the MOD or any military unit and you should talk this through with your clinical placement co-ordinator. We are aware that some military units ask students to sign documents that mean the student undertakes to insure the MOD for a wide-range of employer obligations. You must not sign these forms, even if it means that regrettably your placement falls through.
d: Private hospital groups / large private practices
Like all other employers, private hospital groups/ practices that employ staff are required make their own corporate insurance arrangements for the clinical negligence of their staff which may include students. Where private hospitals/ clinics choose not to include student placements within their corporate covers, you should take individual advice from your HEI and the CSP insurance brokers as to whether the placement remains suitable.
Placements with smaller private physiotherapy practices
Private physiotherapy practices range in size from small single handed practises, to larger business that may have a number of employees. All practices that take students on placement will have a responsibility for your safety whilst on placement, and must have Employers’ Liability insurance in place to cover the placement, no matter how small they are. The size and structure of the practice may determine whether they also have practice insurance to cover medical malpractice claims from their associates or students. The smaller practices are unlikely to need this as their associates will have their own individual cover to cover negligence from their own work.
If you undertake a placement in a small private practice you will need your own individual insurance in place to cover your placement, and the CSP PLI scheme will provide the cover you need subject to the terms and conditions of the policy. You do not need to take out any additional insurance unless you choose to do a placement working with animals or some professional footballers, or other excluded setting, which would not be covered by the CSP scheme.
Placements in social care and the voluntary sector
The CSP actively encourages a wide diversity in practice placement opportunities. Where the social care or voluntary organisation is also an employer, students on placements are likely to be covered by the employer’s scheme. Where the organisation is not an ‘employer’ or does not have alternative arrangements in place to cover its volunteers, you will need your own individual insurance in place to cover your placement, and the CSP PLI scheme will provide the cover you need subject to the terms and conditions of the policy.
Practice placements overseas
PLI cover is provided for student elective placements up to 180 day's duration, anywhere in the world except USA, Canada or Australia. If you want to do a placement in any of these three countries you will need to take out separate insurance.
Foreign students who are enrolled as an overseas student studying on a UK based recognised HCPC pre-registration physiotherapy programme do benefit from the PLI scheme whilst undertaking a formal student elective in their home country (but not USA, Canada or Australia).
You must be supervised at all times during your placement activity in order to be covered by the CSP PLI scheme. This does not have to be direct 1-2-1 supervision, which might not be appropriate as you approach registration, but at all times a registered health professional or social worker must be responsible for determining the work you do, and checking that what you have done is safe and appropriate.
Your CSP insurance is not in force if you cannot prove that you have an appropriate registered supervisor in place.
For the purposes of the PLI scheme, support workers cannot be the only supervisors of your work as they are not registered health professionals. You may be undertaking activities alongside a support worker, but the oversight and original delegation of your work must come from a registered health professional who knows what you are doing and has made the decision that it is suitable for you.
If you are undertaking a placement arranged by your university, the placement details and appropriate supervision will be sorted for you. If you are arranging your own placement, in the UK or overseas, you should keep a clear record of the arrangement you set up and keep clear details of the name of your supervising physiotherapist (or other registered health professional). If a claim is made against you whilst you are a student you will be required to prove you had an appropriate supervisor, so it’s important you keep these details for future reference.
We know that many students undertake unsupervised work, which is often paid, in areas of practice that, in a different context, can also be considered physiotherapy practice e.g. sports massage and taping. You must be aware that where the work is unsupervised, it will not be covered by the CSP scheme. If you want to do this work unsupervised you must take out your own separate insurance for your work.
We give much more detailed information about this on our sports massage page on this website.
CSP publication: Practice placement information guidance for students
The advice on this webpage is intended for student members of the CSP. HEIs wanting information on their own insurance provisions or obligations must seek the advice of their own suitably qualified insurance advisers. Regrettably the CSP is unable to advise HEIs or other organisations.