Caution advised over waiting list initiatives

THE NHS has been under increasing pressure to maintain and reduce the length of time patients wait for procedures.

To this end many hospitals have ‘out-sourced’ procedures to private hospitals. Others have used their own NHS staff to undertake ‘extra’ sessions within their own and other hospitals.

Patients within the NHS are protected by NHS indemnity under various schemes. In England, trusts contribute to the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) and are thus covered by NHS indemnity. Some other private institutions may also join the CNST scheme and so become indemnified through the same scheme. There are similar schemes in Scotland (CNORIS) and Wales (WRP), and Northern Ireland has a risk-pooling scheme.

Doctors may be invited to undertake these waiting list initiatives and may be free to do so within the terms of their contract. However, it is not true to say that NHS type indemnity “follows the patient”. Doctors must not simply assume that if these are patients undergoing procedures as NHS patients that they are automatically covered by NHS indemnity.

Members who wish to undertake this kind of extra work must be clear or have it made clear to them whether the procedures are covered by one of the NHS indemnity schemes or not.

If the work is not so covered, members will have to check if their current subscription is adequate and appropriate to allow them to undertake this extra work. Members must ensure that they fully understand the terms on which they take on such work and, more importantly, carefully check the terms of the agreements or contracts for professional indemnity requirements.

Check with our Membership Team if in doubt.

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