Care leaders have welcomed news that care and nursing homes that become Designated Settings for the discharge of COVID-19 patients from hospital are to be indemnified by the Government against legal claims.
The move was announced in a written ministerial statement tabled by Nadhim Zahawi, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State this week.
Mr Zahawi said: “Given the severity and immediacy of the pressures facing the NHS, we want to take all possible steps to remove obstacles to sufficient local Designated Settings provision. This includes ensuring that where the creation of Designated Settings has created barriers to insurance, the Government will introduce a targeted and time-limited indemnity offer to fill gaps in commercial cover.
“The indemnity will cover clinical negligence, employer’s and public liability where a care provider seeking to become a Designated Setting is unable to secure sufficient commercial insurance, or where an existing provider has been operating without sufficient cover. Employer’s and public liability will be covered by a new indemnity scheme; clinical negligence will be covered by the Clinical negligence Scheme for Trusts, an existing state scheme. The indemnity arrangements will be supervised by DHSC and administered by NHS Resolution. The indemnity will cover Designated Settings until the end of March 2021, with a review point in mid-February.”
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, commented: “We are delighted that the Government has listened to Care England about the critical issue of insurance. We look forward to working with the Government to make the best of this important decision and will continue to campaign to have the difficulties associated with securing insurance cover extended to the rest of the care home sector who are crippled by sky high premiums and lack of COVID cover.”
Vic Rayner, executive chairman of the National Care Forum, pointed out the move was only a temporary solution, however, and called on the government to address the wider insurance issues of the sector and extend indemnity so that is on a par with the NHS.
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, described the announcement as a “positive move” adding: “The devil of course is in the detail and we fear that this action does not go far enough, in covering all care and nursing homes against legal action brought about through COVID-19 deaths, an indemnity currently enjoyed by NHS care providers.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “This indemnity scheme will protect designated care homes and help more providers to support residents who remain infectious when they are discharged from hospital and no longer require medical treatment, but still need care and support. Our priority is to ensure everyone receives the right care, in the right place at the right time.
“We have worked with the insurance industry to find a solution and this arrangement will allow for safe transfers into designated care homes, while protecting other vulnerable residents, and are grateful for them stepping forward so impressively during the pandemic.”