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DH: Community pharmacy covered by indemnity for COVID-19 work

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has confirmed that arrangements are in place to provide indemnity to community pharmacy teams for COVID-related activity.

  • The state-backed indemnity scheme covers NHS activities carried out to deal with or in consequence of COVID-19
  • Arrangements are in place to cover clinical negligence for pharmacy teams undertaking this type of activity

Section 11 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which received royal assent on March 25, sets out the details on indemnity for health service activity in England and Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the policy has not changed since it was introduced, the DH told C+D today (May 7) that it has revised the way it was worded on a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page on the NHS Resolution website.

This was done to clarify that community pharmacy teams in England are covered by the state-backed indemnity for clinical negligence liability for NHS activities they might carry out as a consequence of the pandemic.

The updated wording on the FAQs page reads that, under the Coronavirus Act 2020 powers, provisions were made “for organisations or individuals undertaking NHS activities to respond to the coronavirus to be covered for clinical negligence in these circumstances”.

“This includes those working in community pharmacy delivering pharmaceutical services for the NHS,” according to the document.

NHS Resolution also said in the document that it is “highly unlikely that professionals and staff in community pharmacy will be asked to do anything that is outside of standard NHS pharmaceutical services, so their normal indemnity insurance will cover them”.

Confusion

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiated Committee (PSNC) said earlier this week (May 5) that the original wording on the NHS Resolution website “suggested the government’s safety net indemnity might not have been arranged for community pharmacy”.

The DH has since clarified that the state’s safety net does provide indemnity to pharmacy teams for NHS-related activities during the pandemic, “where there is no existing indemnity arrangement in place”.

A spokesperson from PSNC told C+D today that the negotiator – who had contacted the DH to ask the wording on the FAQs page on NHS Resolution’s website is clarified – is glad this had been amended.

NPA and PDA schemes

A spokesperson from the National Pharmacy Association told C+D yesterday (April 6) that the NPA insurance “will continue to cover its insured against liabilities arising from usual pharmacy-related matters but will expect the NHS indemnity provisions to respond to and indemnify our insured-against COVID-related activities”.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) provides professional indemnity for pharmacy-related COVID-19 work. PDA director Paul Day told C+D today that it is positive that if pharmacy professionals “acted outside of pharmacy activity to help a patient with coronavirus, the state-backed scheme would cover any patient’s claim”.

He said that the state indemnity scheme could apply, for instance, if pharmacy professionals are asked to help “another health professional with a procedure not related to pharmacy”.

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