Should professional indemnity insurance be compulsory?

Should all members of regulated healthcare professions have an appropriate indemnity or insurance, as a condition of their registration with the relevant regulator? The Department of Health has launched a consultation on indemnity insurance for healthcare professionals, with a closing date of 17 May 2013.

The consultation is UK-wide. The proposed change would implement part of an EU Directive about patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare, which requires that systems of professional liability insurance or similar are in place by 25 October 2013. The Government also wants to implement the recommendations of a 2010 review.

So, the consultation says that these aims can be achieved by, “requiring statutorily regulated healthcare professionals to hold insurance or indemnity cover as a condition of their registration”. It adds that indemnity arrangements provided by employers will be sufficient to meet the requirement. The four health departments believe that it is not acceptable that individuals who have suffered harm because of negligence by a member of a regulated profession may not have access to compensation.

There are eight statutory healthcare professional regulatory bodies covered by the UK Parliament: six already have a statutory requirement in place or on its way. Two do not have a requirement or guidance, of which the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is one – although it does recommend registrants have indemnity cover. So the new provisions would include an enabling framework for these two bodies to give them the power to make the relevant rules.