Arrangements for dealing with potential claims and liabilities arising from the COVID-19 vaccination programme have now been confirmed; most healthcare professionals and organisations do not need to take out a new policy of insurance or indemnity.
In a joint letter issued on 22 December 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement, the Department of Health and Social Care, and NHS Resolution confirmed the indemnity arrangements for the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
All three bodies have sought to reassure healthcare professionals and others working and volunteering in the NHS across England about the indemnity arrangements in place.
COVID-19 vaccination activity undertaken within NHS Trusts, General Practice and Community Pharmacy will be covered by the state indemnity schemes run by NHS Resolution as follows:
- Vaccinations administered by an NHS Trust – indemnity under the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST).
- Vaccinations administered in line with the General Practice Enhanced Service specification –indemnity under the Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice (CNSGP).
- Vaccinations administered by community pharmacies in line with the Community Pharmacy Local Enhanced Service agreement – indemnity under the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Coronavirus (CNSC) until 31 March 2021. DHSC will agree an appropriate level of risk sharing with the community pharmacy sector for clinical negligence vaccine cover from the end of March 2021.
- Persons covered under the indemnity arrangements include any additional staff brought in to support delivery of the vaccination programme by Trusts, general practices and community pharmacies including, for example, returner GPs and other staff returning to work via the Bring Back Staff scheme, bank staff provided via NHS Professionals, Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) volunteers coordinated centrally by NHS England and NHS Improvement, and locally recruited volunteers.
- Indemnity arrangements will apply in any setting used by NHS Trusts, general practices or community pharmacies to deliver the vaccination programme, including vaccinations in a care home or other domiciliary setting.
- For NHS Trusts, indemnity for non-clinical vaccination activity will be provided under the Liabilities to Third Parties Scheme; this includes cover for any locally recruited volunteers and RVS volunteers coordinated centrally by NHS England and NHS Improvement.
A summary of the indemnity arrangements can be found here.
The exceptions to coverage under the state indemnity schemes are:
- It is the intention of St John Ambulance for its volunteers and employees to be covered (for both clinical and non-clinical vaccination activity) by the existing insurance policies of St John Ambulance.
- Non-clinical vaccination activity undertaken by staff or locally recruited volunteers in general practice will be covered under the practice’s own third-party liability insurance, as is usual. It is recommended that GPs put in place a local volunteer agreement for locally recruited volunteers.
- Non-clinical vaccination activity undertaken by staff or locally recruited volunteers in community pharmacies will be covered under the pharmacy contractor’s own third-party liability insurance, as is usual. It is recommended that pharmacy contractors also put in place a local volunteer agreement for locally recruited volunteers.
In addition to the arrangements set out above, healthcare professionals are covered by Regulation 345 of the Human Medicine Regulations, which provides immunity from civil liability in respect of claims in relation to the safety or efficacy of the temporarily authorised vaccine itself.
More information is available here.