A mandatory professional requirement for all pharmacy technicians is that they are covered by Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance.
This enables Pharmacy Technicians to be able to meet the legal and financial compensation costs that may be pursued against them by members of the public who have suffered harm as a result of an error or omission committed by a Pharmacy Technician – this could run into millions of pounds.
Compensation claims are much more common than ever before, and some lawyers are claiming excessive fees. In one simple case recently, the Pharmacy Insurance Agency (PIA) handled a claim where the patient received £9,000 but the lawyers asked for fees of £63,000.
Many employees are told by their employers that in the event that something goes wrong, their employer's PI insurance will settle claims. It is important to understand that the PI insurance taken out by the employer is primarily designed to protect the employer and his interests, rather than that of the employee, and it allows the employer to control the defence.
Relying on your employer's umbrella may be ok if you are both travelling in the same direction, but if your employer wants to go in a different direction, you have to follow them to avoid getting wet.
PI insurance that is carried by the individual seeks to protect the name and reputation of the pharmacy technician and is not concerned with the brand and reputation of the employer. It allows the pharmacy technician to control the defence, and in the PIA's experience, this can make a world of difference to the outcome of any potential claim.
If a serious error occurs, the independent insurance provided by the PIA ensures that investigation teams can seek to examine the pharmacy if necessary, interview anyone involved in the incident, identify systems faults and ensure that the liability for the error is fairly attributed. This may mean that the blame may not lie solely or even at all with the pharmacy technician. In defending the reputation of the pharmacy technician, sometimes the reputation of other members of staff, or even the employer, are called into question. This may well mean that it is the employer and not the pharmacy technician who takes the blame for the error.
We believe that for this reason some employers would prefer their employees not to have their own individual PI insurance. Employers may find it much more difficult to protect their organisation in the event of an error; they are also much more likely to have to face regulatory proceedings if the environment and their systems (e.g., staff shortages etc.) have caused the error. Individual pharmacy technicians are realising that it is in their interests to be protected by PI insurance that is independent of their employer.
We recommend that it should also be independent of any trade association representing the interests of employers, such as the NPA. Protection from Civil Claims for Compensation It is important for the defence of a pharmacy technician involved in a civil claim for compensation that their defence effort should be free from the possibility of a conflict of interest.
The PI insurance scheme provided by the PIA is a powerful adjunct to the practice of the pharmacy technician. It is not in any way connected to the employer's insurance, nor that of their trade association. It allows pharmacy technicians to always have their name and their reputation put at the very heart of the defence effort, and it will never allow it to become subordinate to the reputational or commercial interests of an employer in the event of an error.
The closest analogy to personal indemnity insurance is that of an umbrella in a rain storm. Relying on your employer's umbrella may be ok if you are both travelling in the same direction, but if your employer wants to go in a different direction, you have to follow them to avoid getting wet. Of course, if you have your own umbrella then you can choose the direction that best suits you. A defence that best represents your interests.
- PI insurance is a mandatory condition of your registration with the GPhC.
- Claims for compensation are on the increase.
- Understand the difference between employer-provided PI insurance and that carried by the individual.
- Ensure that your interests are always put at the heart of any defence efforts.
- Avoid any potential conflict of interest – do not rely on your employer's trade association for your PI insurance.
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
It is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)