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You’re covered: public liability insurance and HCPC registration

Professional liability insurance – soon to be an essential requirement for HCPC registration – is one of the many benefits of CSP membership

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CSP members are already covered to meet new insurance requirements

A change in the law this summer means that all registered health professionals must have appropriate professional indemnity as a condition of registration with their regulator. The Health Care and Associated Professions (Indemnity Arrangements) Order 2014 came into effect on 17 July and from 2016 the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) will ask physiotherapy staff to confirm they meet the requirement by completing a professional declaration.

The new law may be a headache for some healthcare professionals whose unions are no longer providing full cover, but CSP members – including physiotherapists, student and associate members – are unaffected.

Pip White, a CSP professional adviser who is partly responsible for the CSP’s insurance scheme, says: ‘For our members nothing has changed. The benefits of CSP membership mean they’re already covered and already meet these new requirements. So our members have nothing to worry about.’

The CSP’s professional liability insurance (PLI) covers members who are qualified physiotherapists, HCPC-registered and resident in the UK for personal injury claims arising from alleged medical malpractice arising within the scope of practice. This could include causing death, bodily injury, or failing to spot a ‘red flag’ sign of a serious condition.

And it is important to note that the CSP provides members with a fully insured programme. This means there is no contribution (otherwise known as excess) payable by members for any claim under the medical professional liability policy. Each member is insured up to £5 million for any one claim and up to £10 million per year. To be covered by the CSP’s PLI, practising members must be registered with the HCPC.

Although highly unusual, there have been settlements as high as £750,000. Most are under £40,000.

CSP membership not only provides medical and professional insurance, but also includes public liability insurance, which covers claims not related to actual treatments, such as slips and trips.

In all cases legal costs are included within the cover provided.

Cover creates confidence

Members are covered for the loss of confidential documents, where they become liable to pay damages resulting from loss of patient’s medical records and documents. Other key benefits include claims arising from breach of confidentiality, use of the internet and in certain circumstances libel and slander claims committed ‘without animosity’ – in other words, without deliberate ill will.

Members are covered not only for their own work but also for their ‘vicarious’ liability – where they may be indirectly responsible for the actions of others arising from work they delegate, within the scope of practice, to students or support staff.

Part-time and full-time physios are covered, along with work across NHS and private practice boundaries. Sebastien Baugh, a CSP professional adviser who has practised as a physio in the NHS and at several private clinics, says: ‘It’s definitely reassuring to have the cover – up to £5 million – especially for those of us who work outside the NHS, where you’re entirely responsible for getting cover.’

About 400 CSP members volunteered their expertise at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and they were all covered by the society’s PLI. Natalie Beswetherick, the CSP’s director of practice and development, says: ‘Wherever people are working – whether they’re self-employed, or they could be volunteering – the PLI covers them.

‘It gives members the confidence that on the rare occasion that a claim could be made against them, they will have access to a dedicated and expert service that will help them through even after they are no longer practising and into retirement’.

Rising number of claims

William Hulse is the managing director of Graybrook, the Essex-based company that acts as the CSP’s insurance broker. He points out: ‘International cover is provided to members for up to 180 days in any 12-month period, subject to limitations in the US, Canada and Australia. Sole trader limited companies operated by members may also benefit from the professional liability cover, as well as non-limited liability partnerships provided they solely comprise CSP members.’

Over the past five years CSP members have reported 313 claims under the PLI scheme, compared to 176 claims in the previous five years, says Mr Hulse. He says he thinks the figures confirm a rising tide of clinical negligence claims.

‘There have been a wide variety of claims brought against members, but generally speaking they include failure to diagnose, burns, acupuncture, inappropriate treatment and advice, as well as physical injuries sustained by patients during the treatment process,’ he says.

Guidance available

Michael Guthrie, director of policy and standards at the HCPC, says: ‘The majority of our registrants will already meet these requirements because they will be indemnified either through their employer, a professional body, union or defence organisation, directly with an insurer, or a combination of these.

‘However, it‘s important that registrants ensure that they have cover in place that is appropriate for their practice. We have produced guidance called “Professional Indemnity and your Registration” to help registrants understand the new requirement. This document can be downloaded from our website.’

CSP professional adviser Pip White says that for physiotherapists who are not CSP members, now is the time to think about joining the CSP, because they will have to prove they have appropriate insurance.

And as Ms White’s fellow CSP adviser Sebastien Baugh says: ‘The hope is that, as a clinician, you never have to use the PLI, but it’s always there as a back-up in case there are any issues. A very important back-up, I think,’ he adds. fl

  • Full details of the cover as provided by CSP membership see here and for details of the HCPC professional indemnity requirements click here.
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Frontline Staff

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