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Call to extend state-backed GP pharmacist indemnity cover to community

Everyone working in general practice will be automatically covered in relation to NHS services
Everyone working in general practice will be automatically covered in relation to NHS services

The RPS has welcomed the inclusion of GP pharmacists in a new state-backed indemnity scheme, but said it should be extended to cover community pharmacists.

The Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice will cover “all those carrying out activities in connection with the provision of NHS services for general practice” – including pharmacists – from today (April 1), NHS England said.

“No payments are required to benefit from the indemnity provided under the scheme,” and it “continues to apply where a GP or other person is no longer practising or working in general practice at the time a claim is made”, the commissioning body explained.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English board chair Sandra Gidley said the inclusion of GP pharmacists in the new scheme is “good news”, and “will come as a welcome relief to those who have had to bear the burden of rising professional indemnity costs”.

However, “as primary care services continue to evolve, it’s important the scheme is extended to cover pharmacists delivering services under the community pharmacy contract”, she stressed.

Be wary of the gaps in cover

Alex Buchanan, head of legal at the National Pharmacy Association – which provides professional indemnity insurance – said: “The indemnity scheme does not cover non-NHS work or provide legal representation for inquests and disciplinary investigations.”

GP pharmacists should seek advice where there are gaps in cover, he advised.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association echoed the advice, adding that the scheme “does not travel with the pharmacist into other roles and responsibilities or into other sectors of pharmacy through a portfolio career”.

Last year, health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said he would “look into” a claim that some community pharmacists were struggling to get indemnity insurance when working with GPs.

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