Professional indemnity - forthcoming changes


23 / 7 / 2013 9.07am

Legislation is being prepared by the UK Government to take effect later in 2013 that will require all statutory regulated healthcare professionals to have relevant insurance or indemnity in place to cover their practice.  Each registrant will need to confirm this is in place to their professional body.

Action required by employers

The responsibility to have the appropriate level of indemnity rests with the individual registrant.

It is anticipated that most health professionals will have the appropriate cover either through being indemnified by their employer and/or will hold separate indemnity insurance.

As a result of these planned changes and the communications being issued by the regulators to their registrants, we anticipate that staff may seek clarity from their employer as to the type and level of cover provided by virtue of their employment.

Employers may wish to prepare this information in advance for their staff, if it is not already available.


An independent review reported in June 2010 that there should be a statutory duty upon registrants to have insurance or indemnity in respect of liabilities which may be incurred in carrying out work as a registered health professional.

At the same time, negotiations were ongoing in Europe on a Directive on patients’ rights which raised, amongst other topics, the question of professional indemnity. On 28 February 2011, the European Union Commission, Parliament and European Council formally adopted the Directive which came into force on 9 March 2011. A specific element of the Directive places a requirement on Member States to ensure that, by 25 October 2013, they have incorporated into domestic law:

‘systems of professional liability insurance, or a guarantee or similar arrangement that is equivalent or essentially comparable as regards its purpose and which is appropriate to the nature and the extent of the risk, are in place for treatment provided [in Member States]’

In the UK it has been agreed that this will be achieved via the individual registration process with a professional regulator.

Current system

There is currently no consistency across the statutory healthcare professional regulators but most do require their registrants to have indemnity to cover the scope of their practice and failure to do so can lead to the commencement of Fitness to Practise proceedings. There are two exceptions:

  • Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) has no current guidance for registrants. 

HCPC are currently consulting on how to implement a system which will cover 15 of the 16 professions they regulate (social workers are not included in the scope of this planned change) and they have drafted some guidance for registrants.

Their proposal suggests a model similar to what exists with other regulators - self-declaration by the registrant. The HCPC are proposing that evidence of appropriate cover need not be submitted to the regulator to enable registration to be granted or renewed but should it transpire that the registrant has been practising without the relevant indemnity, action will be taken by the regulator.

  • Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) only recommend cover is needed within the Code of Conduct but this is not mandatory.

The NMC are currently drafting the documentation they will use and we will share this with employers as soon as it is available. They are currently advising their registrants (nurses and midwives) to ensure that they hold the right level of indemnity arrangement to cover all of their practice now, and not wait until October 2013.

If you work for the NHS, you will already have an appropriate indemnity arrangement. The NHS self insures for its employees, which means you will be covered if a claim is
made against you and is successful.

Keeping up to date

To ensure we keep employers up to date over the coming months we will be in discussion with the Department of Health and the professional regulators and we will post updates through the NHS Workforce Bulletin and on these web pages. Further guidance for employees can be sought from the NMC or the HCPC.

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