Professional indemnity insurance – are you covered?

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Sally has been out of nursing for around six years because of family commitments. Like many other nurses who take time off work to look after young children, she’s discovered that she does not satisfy the “recency of practice” requirements of AHPRA and so cannot be registered to return to nursing until she has completed a period of “supervised practice”.

The catch-22 is that to do this she has to work in a hospital, but as she is not registered she cannot be employed. Hospitals sometimes take the view that they will not provide such people with professional indemnity insurance (PII). Without PII, Sally cannot work in a hospital; therefore she cannot undertake supervised practice and therefore cannot get re-registered and therefore cannot work as a nurse. Sounds crazy, but that is the reality.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association’s Professional Indemnity Insurance was designed with such people in mind. Even though they are not employees, they are seeking employment in nursing and the Association accepts their membership so they can be covered by PII for their period of supervised practice.

Check with your nursing/midwifery union in your state if you are also in this situation. Laws and regulations vary between states and territories. [Note that from a practical point of view, nursing employees in New South Wales have been, and remain, covered for professional indemnity. In simple terms, section 3 of the Employer Liability Act provides that an employee cannot be held liable for a wrong (eg. negligence) if their employer is also liable. Employers are responsible for maintaining a variety of insurances, including “liability” insurance in the event that they may be sued for faulty practices or products. However, this is not the case in all Australian States and Territories.]

Automatic coverage for Professional Indemnity Insurance through NSW Association membership is also important if you:

– Work in another state eg. a nurse living in Tweed Heads near the border may work the majority of their time in New South Wales, but do additional casual or part-time work in Queensland;

– Take short-term contracts interstate. The Association provides PII as part of membership.

– Similarly, members working for a bankrupt employer whose insurances have not been maintained or nurses who do some private nursing work secondary to their main employment would not be insured – subject to conditions, these circumstances are now covered.

Find out more about PII.

Join the Association online.

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