Unite Contingent Medical Malpractice Cover (CMMC, formerly Professional Liability Insurance – PLI) Scheme
The Guild’s view on these arrangements has always been that, if a pharmacist works only in hospital, s/he is covered by their NHS employer’s vicarious liability arrangements. This is also sufficient for completion of the General Pharmaceutical Council requirement for professional indemnity cover. That, together with membership of a union, to ensure the employer acts correctly towards an employee who has made a genuine error, should be sufficient basic cover. The basic position of the Guild, the 4 UK health administrations and the General Pharmaceutical Council therefore remains largely unchanged there is no requirement for individual employees to obtain personal cover themselves when they are already covered by corporate or employer cover which is sufficient to ensure redress is available.
However, we accept that, in reality, many pharmacists have felt pressurised into taking out their own professional liability insurance through influences from various quarters. Many pharmacists employed in the NHS work extra hours in community pharmacy and a significant number are employed part time in both hospital and community pharmacy. NHS employers’ liability will not cover work in community pharmacy and although community pharmacy employers must have their own employer’s vicarious liability arrangements, whether or not the employer will seek to recover damages from the employee is not clear cut, although the NPA the main insurer has never pursued a locum for recovery of damages to date.
To meet members’ requests, not only in pharmacy, but for other health professional members of Unite, a professional liability scheme is available at a cost of £15 a year in addition to the normal Unite subscription
The full policy plus application form is here.
Pharmacists who are members of GHP and carry the additional Unite CMM will receive Trade Union support and have cover in place when working for a pharmacy employer, service company or other Pharmacist who has PLI cover whether as a direct employee or a self-employed locum.
This cover includes extended roles such as supplementary and independent prescribing. It also provides for the cost of legal representation at a coroner’s inquest or inquiry in respect of any death, the cost of defence of any criminal proceedings brought or in appeal against the Pharmacist for an offence of criminal manslaughter and for proceedings in any court arising out of any alleged breach of statutory duty, (including Corporate Manslaughter).
Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists
June 2008 (amended December 2010)
Professional Liability Insurance: Questions and Answers
Is this not a change in GHP policy?
This is not a change in basic GHP policy in that employees remain covered by NHS Employers Vicarious Liability for work undertaken on behalf of the employer, so there remains no need for employees to obtain additional PLI. The position is quite clear in England, Scotland and Wales. Guidance has been issued which provides a written assurance that employers will not seek to recover any damages from the employee as a result of a civil claim. The documents are available on the health sector web site www.amicustheunion.org under health sector. The position in NI is less clear as there are only verbal assurances.
In addition membership of Unite, the only recognised Trade Union for NHS pharmacists, provides workplace representation should any employer seek redress through disciplinary processes or by other means.
So why have GHP sought a policy?
There was a lot of concern amongst members especially those with multiple employers, those undertaking new and expanded roles (such as both supplementary and independent prescribing) as part of their contract and ambiguity about how requirements by regulators for professional indemnity arrangements should be met. The option of this policy shows Unite have listened and the price of £15 per year reflects the market’s estimation of the additional risks.
What is covered?
The policy provides cover against legal liability in respect of claims for breach of professional duty consequent upon any neglect, error or omission in providing advice, treatment or prescriptions in the course of the business anywhere in the world except USA/Canada where the person concerned is competent and qualified to undertake the duties. This includes full and part-time workers within the NHS and the private sector and as a locum at any time during the policy period. Self-employed persons, agency staff and students who are working for an Employer. The policy also covers duties undertaken outside the course of employment so long as the member is not carrying them out in a self-employed capacity working for themselves or as proprietors of organisations. These could include for example unpaid professional work or assisting at a roadside accident.
What is covered by membership of GHP if I choose not to take out the policy?
As an individual, you retain the rights that come with Trade Union membership of Unite – including representation in the workplace for Disciplinary and Grievance Issues, Sickness procedures, Organisational Change and internal inquiries. This will continue through to Employment Tribunals for disputes that cannot be resolved with the employer, continued representation to the regulator’s disciplinary processes for practice undertaken during employment, and if working within the NHS the civil liability arrangements under the appropriate national civil negligence schemes.
Collectively, the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, through Unite will continue to negotiate on pay, and terms and conditions for pharmacists including submissions to the Pay Review Body. As a member, you will have a say through democratically constituted ballots.
Do I have to pay the extra £15?
The policy in its first year will be an opt-in policy but based on experience with other groups in Unite we expect to move to an opt-out option (similar to the political levy process) in future years.
What about other Unite Healthcare Professionals?
A number of professional groups in Unite, such as Theatre Practitioners and Health Visitors already had additional Professional Liability arrangements and while GHP led on this area it will be available to all Health Professional members within the Health Sector including Community Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians.
What are the additional benefits from the policy?
The policy provides public and products liability cover for all employees both within and outside the NHS including locum work undertaken through an agency of up to £3 million. In addition at the request of GHP, based on existing cases, a number of features have been specifically incorporated and clarified these include
1. Cost of legal representation at a coroner’s inquest or inquiry in respect of any death.
2. The cost of defence of any criminal proceedings brought or in appeal against the Pharmacist for an offence of criminal manslaughter.
3. Proceedings in any court arising out of any alleged breach of statutory duty, (including Corporate Manslaughter).
What if you are a PRESCRIBER do you have to pay extra?
All pharmacists registered and recognised by their employers as prescribers are covered by the policy. As previously GHP would advise that all duties are listed in the individual’s job description and policies are in place to support non-medical prescribing.
Are there criteria for cover?
The policy will automatically cover members both within and outside the NHS provided they meet the following criteria
1) They are qualified to undertake the work in question and where required have been assessed for that competency by the employing organisation.
2) The member acknowledges their own competence in this area of work and is working within their scope of practice.
3) They adhere to the General Pharmaceutical Council Standards of conduct, ethics and performance.
4) The employer has acknowledged that the work is part of the healthcare professionals role and is within their scope of practice.
What are the limits of the cover?
The cover limits are
Public and Products Liability: £3,000,000
Legal Defence Costs: £250,000
Who is providing the cover?
The policy is underwritten by Royal Sun Alliance and the terms have been negotiated by the specialist Pharmaceutical & Healthcare division of Heath Lambert Group – Unite’s insurance brokers. Full details of the policy can be obtained are on the health sector web site as above.
Issued July 2008
Updated October 2010