Advice line - Trials and errors

How much do you know about your professional insurance cover, asks CSP adviser Pip White

The CSP has recently received a number of enquires relating to the extent to which members are covered for their defence costs, should a criminal allegation be made against them.

In addition, members are concerned that the recent Francis report suggestions for individual criminal accountability may affect them.

These enquiries highlight the need for all physiotherapists to understand their liabilities and give proper consideration as to whether they feel their insurance needs are properly met.

To help members understand these issues, the CSP has completely updated its web pages on insurance.

The CSP public liability insurance (PLI) scheme provides indemnity for medical malpractice, professional indemnity and public liability cover for civil liabilities arising from your professional work.

It does not provide any cover for any criminal proceedings brought against members.

In rare circumstances, members may be charged with criminal offences relating to sexual offences or other criminal matters.

The government estimates that the ‘average’ defence costs of a criminal trial are about £5,000. A trial for sexual assault, however, can cost about £17,000.

For members in England and Wales only, since 2010 the reduction in legal aid funding and the costs involved mean that the CSP no longer pays for members’ defence costs at either a magistrates or crown court.

In addition, the proposed 2012 changes to the criminal justice system (if approved), further limit the accessibility to legal aid funding for crown court trials, such that any person with a household disposable income of more than £37,500 will not be entitled to any legal aid, even if he or she is subsequently acquitted of a criminal offence.

In the same way that you can buy insurance to cover other types of risk, legal expenses insurance is available to cover criminal defence costs, and CSP members may like to consider the information given on the CSP web pages.

Finally, the recommendations made in the Francis report have not yet been implemented, and the CSP will update members as and if any changes are introduced.

Pip White is a CSP professional adviser with specialist knowledge in healthcare law

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Pip White

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