PDA – Keeping you covered

The government has proposed to launch a State Backed Indemnity Scheme for GP practice based personnel in England and Wales. This scheme does not extend to pharmacists working in Scotland or Northern Ireland. On 31st January 2019 the government confirmed the launch date as 1st April 2019

State Backed scheme

Key points

  • Don’t change your current arrangements until clarity has been provided
  • Consider whether all of your GP practice based activities are described in a GMS, PMS or APMS contract
  • You will need cover over and above the State Backed scheme if you are working in a portfolio career
  • Ensure you protect your reputation in front of regulatory, employment and criminal investigations and coroners inquests
  • Look out for the publication of the Q&A for pharmacists that the PDA and DHSC are currently working on
  • NHS England have advised that general practice staff will still need to take out separate defence organisation cover for professional practice and additional advisory support services.

The background

Pharmacists and all other healthcare professionals in the hospital service have worked in an environment where a similar ‘State Backed Scheme’ has operated for many years; depending on which part of the UK it operates in, it is known as the ‘Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts’ (CNST) or the ‘NHS risk pool’. For this reason, the PDA and the other Medical Defence Unions are familiar with how it works.

The State Backed schemes are not operated by the respective defence unions, they are operated by ‘NHS Resolution’ and the State Backed schemes are designed to protect members of the public. The schemes ensure that subject to certain conditions being observed, the compensation that members of the public require is paid for by the State.

What the State Backed schemes are not designed to do, is to provide protection for the respective healthcare professional who was involved in the error. They do not provide cover for the ‘medico-legal’ protection that any pharmacist involved in an error or omission will require.

When an incident resulting in patient harm occurs, a clinical negligence claim is just one of many negative sequelae which may ensue. Members will still need to consider how they protect themselves against the following situations they may have to face:

  • GPhC proceedings
  • Criminal investigations, related to professional practice
  • Coroner’s Inquests or Fatal Accident Inquiries
  • Patient complaints
  • CCG, Health Board and/or NHS investigations
  • Disputes with their employer involving investigations, disciplinaries, grievances, whistleblowing or performance management

The PDA has extensive experience of representing the interests of members in all such situations and what it has learned over many years is that admissions made in any correspondence used in the handling of the compensation issue will often be relied upon later on in the process by the regulator, the coroner or even the employer. It is therefore vital that all of these matters are joined together in the pharmacists overall defence strategy. The main concern over the State Backed Scheme is that it will not be looking to connect its actions to the overall defence strategy of the pharmacist; because of this it could undermine the pharmacists position.

Little surprise then that despite the CNST being in existence in hospitals for decades, around 90% of hospital doctors are members of their respective defence unions, and more than 5,000 hospital pharmacists are members of the PDA.

PDA membership provides both insurance and a comprehensive advice and support service – in fact around 85% of the defence episodes provided by The PDA to members are not in any way connected to or underpinned by insurance. They involve the provision of expert advice and support from our in-house lawyers and pharmacists. They are provided as membership benefits and funded by membership subscriptions and include help with letter and statement writing, employment advice, representation at work, regulatory meetings and hearings and much more.

Our experience has shown that by intervening as soon as possible after the occurrence of an incident and providing members with our expert support and advice, many situations are settled long before the matter escalates resulting in court hearings, significant compensation payments or even unnecessary referrals to the regulator .

Click here to see the difference at a glance 

Click here to read about the difference between State Backed indemnity and membership of the PDA

The State Backed Indemnity Scheme – Important additional considerations

As well as the issues described above, the State Backed Scheme only operates in specific situations. It has been designed to cover only activities undertaken whilst delivering NHS services under a GP practice’s GMS, PMS or APMS contract to include out of hours.

In discussions with the Department of Health it is apparent that there are still a number of uncertainties as to what pharmacist activities will be included or excluded from the State Backed scheme. The PDA is currently exploring these areas with the Department and will advise members as to where the gaps may exist once this becomes clear.

The State Backed Indemnity Scheme – What the PDA is currently doing

The PDA is currently in discussions with the Department as it seeks to secure clarity for pharmacists.

1. Existing Liabilities

One of the risks for pharmacists who move from PDA membership to the State Backed scheme is understanding which claim would fall to which provider in the event that an incident that occurred in the past turns into a compensation claim at some time in the future once the State Backed Scheme is in place.

The Department has stated;

The Department also intends to establish the arrangements for an existing liabilities scheme in April 2019, subject to satisfactory discussions with the Medical Defence Organisations.”

These discussions are belated but are now underway and the PDA will inform members once the new arrangements have been agreed with the Department and clarification can be given.

2. Question and Answer facility

The Department has agreed to work with the PDA on a Question and Answer facility for pharmacists and this will be released as soon as it is completed.

3. Brand new scheme from the PDA.

The State Backed scheme will not seek to defend the reputation of pharmacists. Consequently the PDA is  working on a brand new membership scheme for GP practice based pharmacists which will fill any gaps in their personal and professional protection. The new scheme can work alongside the State Backed Scheme, this would enable the PDA membership premiums to be significantly reduced. The details can only be finalised once the transitional arrangements and all other discussions with the Department of Health have been concluded. The PDA will provide full details to pharmacists once this has occurred.

Click here to read our advice to members on what to do next

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

Cookie Use

This website uses cookies to help us provide the best user experience. If you continue browsing you are giving your consent to our use of cookies.