- Published: Thursday, 06 December 2018 21:03
- Written by News Editor
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The Department for Health and Social Care has announced a consultation into indemnity cover for healthcare professionals who are not covered by existing or proposed state-backed schemes. They say that there are concerns that the current arrangements could prevent patients getting appropriate compensation and put healthcare professionals at risk of being personally liable for the costs of claims.
The consultation seeks views on two options:
- leave arrangements as they are
- change legislation to require healthcare professionals who are not covered by any state-backed scheme to hold cover that is regulated
Currently, all healthcare professionals who wish to practise in the UK are legally required to hold appropriate clinical negligence cover for the costs of claims and damages awarded to patients arising out of negligence.
There are concerns that the current arrangements held by healthcare professionals who are not covered by state-backed schemes could prevent patients getting appropriate compensation and put healthcare professionals at risk of being personally liable for the costs of claims.
This is because these arrangements are mostly discretionary, where the providers are not contractually obliged to meet the costs of any claim and are not subject to prudential or financial conduct regulation.
The groups that are likely to be most affected by any changes to the current indemnity arrangements are:
- regulated professionals in the NHS who hold indemnity cover which is not currently regulated, such as primary care dentistry
- private practice of medical doctors and other regulated healthcare professionals
- healthcare professionals in Northern Ireland and Scotland who are not covered by any state-backed indemnity scheme, such as GPs.
Dental Protection response:
Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection, said: “We are working with the Government on their proposal to regulate professional indemnity, contributing our knowledge and experience to ensure that members’ needs remain at the forefront of any decisions made. We are already exploring the best way to offer members an insurance product. So, should the Government decide all dentists and doctors need to hold a regulated policy of insurance for clinical negligence risks, we are confident we will be in a strong position to offer this as a benefit of membership to UK members.
“Any proposals to introduce regulation will be subject to public consultation and require legislation, so it will be some time before the details are agreed and any changes implemented. In the meantime, it is business as usual at Dental Protection. As a mutual organisation, owned by and run purely for the benefit of members our priority is serving the best interests of all members as we have done for the past 125 years and will continue to do so long into the future.”
Chief executive Chris Kenny said: “This consultation is yet another missed opportunity to tackle the real issues that drive rising costs for healthcare professionals. Instead of supporting choice and proposing concrete actions on legal reform that would make a real difference, the Government is seeking to impose a cost increase on health professionals by moving to an insurance-based model that will attract a 12% insurance premium tax. Patients will not be better protected – the document acknowledges that there is no evidence of harm in the UK from the current discretionary model. Doctors and dentists will gain no benefit. The only winner is the Treasury with its additional 12% premium tax income.
“In short, there is little evidence to support the proposals, nor indeed that there is a real problem to be resolved other than increasing competition and transparency. There does need to be consistent financial data from all participants in the market and there’s a case for access to the Financial Ombudsman in the event of disputes. These disproportionate proposals totally miss these opportunities to make a real difference quickly.
“We can at least welcome the fact that Government is consulting properly on this issue in a way that it has not done elsewhere. We therefore urge clinicians, their representative bodies and the devolved administrations to follow MDDUS’ lead and respond strongly to Government to urge them to focus on where change is really needed. But we will not let this unnecessary distraction interfere with our vital work of supporting our members day in and day out. We are ready and able to continue to offer them excellent service and value for money no matter how this consultation ends.”
To respond to consultation go to: https://consultations.dh.gov.uk/resolution-patient-experience-and-maternity/indemnity-regulation/
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