Pip White sheds light on what is and what isn’t covered by the CSP’s public liability insurance.
Although rare, there appears to be an increasing incidence of allegations that physiotherapists have touched their patients inappropriately during the course of physiotherapy treatment. In some cases, patients report their concerns to the police. Non-consensual touching covers a range of actions and is investigated by the police as either a ‘battery’ or a ‘sexual assault’, both of which are criminal offences. The CSP provides clear chaperoning guidance to help avoid situations that might lead to claims being made later on (see below).
Members often believe that any allegation that arises against them during the course of their work will be covered by the terms of the CSP public liability insurance (PLI) scheme. This is not the case and the PLI scheme has a number of exclusions that limit the extent of cover provided.
Members should be aware that the PLI scheme does not provide any cover for any criminal proceedings brought against members, or for any claim arising from allegations of actual or attempted sexual relations, sexual contact or intimacy, harassment or exploitation.
This means that where a member is under investigation or charged with any criminal matter relating to inappropriate touching, it will not be covered by the PLI scheme and they may have to fund their costs themselves. For members in England and Wales only, the CSP no longer pays for members’ defence costs at either magistrates or crown court. As access to legal aid in England is means tested, most physiotherapists will not have access to state funding for their defence – even if they are subsequently acquitted of a criminal offence. Costs can be considerable, running into thousands of pounds.
Legal expenses insurance is available to cover criminal defence costs, and the CSP provides information on this. All members might like to consider whether they wish to obtain additional insurance for what is hopefully a rare and extremely distressing event.
- Pip White is a CSP professional adviser
AuthorPip White CSP professional adviser
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