RCN indemnity changes – further reactions

The RCN has said that it is ‘unacceptable’ for GP employers to insist that nurses buy indemnity cover, or cover any costs to the practice. In a briefing issued in December (see here for the RCN briefing and here for news of the announcement and initial reactions), the RCN has hit back, saying that this is poor employment practice, that it is commonly accepted that the costs of running a business should be carried by the employing organisation, and that it will help its members resist the move. It also claims that many GPs do not know about the benefits of RCN membership and that it is important they understand that the RCN provides legal support and advice to its members for any case before the NMC – this is separate from the indemnity scheme.

As for independent prescribers, the statement stresses that the employer is vicariously liable for the actions of employed nurses, and that independent prescribers are not required to have personal cover either professionally or legally: if the GP or the medical defence organisation that covers them wishes it, then that is the employer’s responsibility.

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) has now met with the RCN and says that it believes there are implications for practice nurses who were indemnified by the RCN, because their role is changing (see here.) It claims that increased responsibilities come with greater accountability, and that although employed nurses could choose to rely on the indemnity provided by their employers’ vicarious liability, ‘many may be concerned that as professionals in their own right a claim or complaint may be brought directly against them in person, and so decide they need to join a medical defence organisation themselves for their own peace of mind.’