The GPs' Committee (GPC) is to ask local medical committees (LMCs) to advise all practices to ensure their nurses have indemnity cover, following the Royal College of Nurse's (RCN) announcement it will cut back its cover for practice nurses.
From January 2012, indemnity cover for nurses employed by a GP will be provided by the employer, not the RCN.
This means that medical defence organisations (MDOs) will not be able to seek recover for clinical negligence action costs from the RCN from next year. Instead GP employers must accept 'vicarious liability' for the actions of nurses, taking legal and financial responsibility.
The British Medical Association's GPC said last week it was "very disappointed" with the decision and that it had not been consulted by the RCN.
The GPC wants MDOs to give "consistent advice" over this issue for practices to make sure GP surgeries can ensure their nurses are covered "for any activity they presently do".
Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC Chair, said that while most – but not all – GPs have personal or practice insurance arrangements that mean that nurses are covered "in general", many practice nurses take on extended roles, which have been covered by the RCN.
"It's important that practices look at the cover for their nurses and establishes how much cover there is."
Dr Buckman said: "We will be discussing this with MDOs. This thing has been visited on practice nurses – not on any other kind of nurse – and we will be advising LMCs to advise their practices to make sure their nurses are fully covered".
The RCN says that the move is necessary because expenditure on claims and the insurance premium it pays are both rising, and that spending on claims arsing from general practice is now a "disproportionate part of that budget".