Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why do I need indemnity cover?

Q2. Doesn't my dentist's indemnity cover me?

Q3. Do I need any other indemnity?

Q4. What happens if my indemnity against negligence claims is provided free of charge through the professional indemnity of my employing dentist? Surely your first priority will be to look after the dentist, not me?

Q5. But if my indemnity against negligence claims is provided free of charge through the professional indemnity of my employing dentist, what happens if I am no longer working for that dentist when a claim is made months or years later, that involves me?

Q6. What's the difference between occurrence-based indemnity, and a claims-made insurance policy? Doesn't it amount to the same thing?

Q7. What if I am not actually employed by the dentist with whom I am working? How sure can I be that I am indemnified by that dentist, or by my actual employee, if I do something that results in a negligence claim?

Q8. I work for a locum agency, and am actually employed by the agency itself, rather than the practices where I am placed. How does that affect my indemnity?

Q9. I am an NHS employee in a Community Clinic. They employ me and I don't work anywhere else. My boss tells me that I am insured through Crown Indemnity, just like he is, and therefore I don't need to have my own professional indemnity. Is he right?

Q10. Most of the dentists I work with are members of Dental Protection, and I have seen some of the publications they receive. Would I be entitled to receive these (or any other) publications from you, if I were to become a member?

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Q1. Why do I need indemnity cover?

The General Dental Council Dental Nurses (DCP) Register opened on 31 July 2006. Registration of dental nurses will become compulsory on and after 31 July 2008. The GDC has decided that dental nurses will need to have indemnity so that patients can be compensated if they are harmed by a dental nurse's negligent acts and omissions. Dental Protection welcomes the opening of the register and has undertaken to provide dental nurses with professional indemnity, which will be both economic and easily available, and flexible enough to be tailored to individual needs in respect of the hours worked and the roles undertaken by the dental nurse. Top

Q2. Doesn't my dentist's indemnity cover me?

Indemnity to assist with clinical negligence claims is available at no cost to the dental nurse when he or she is working, as an employee, of a full subscription Dental Protection dentist in the appropriate category. An unlimited number of named dental nurses can be included per dentist subscription as an employee of a dentist in general dental practice, employee of an NHS hospital trust, the dental defence services or a corporate employer. Top

Q3. Do I need any other indemnity?

Additional indemnity and assistance with matters other than clinical negligence claims, eg, complaints to the PCT, the Healthcare Commission, the GDC or other investigations is currently available for dental nurses at two rates dependent upon their hours of work. In addition, for dental nurses who don't have an arrangement with their employers, personal indemnity is available for both clinical negligence and additional matters (as above). Where dental nurses are also practice owners, indemnity is available under category DNU. This membership also includes assistance with legal action involving clinical negligence for up to five named dental nurses, at no extra cost.

The benefits of all categories of membership are discretionary which also provides and flexibility in responding to your needs. Top

Q4. What happens if my indemnity against negligence claims is provided free of charge through the professional indemnity of my employing dentist? Surely your first priority will be to look after the dentist, not me?

Over 70% of the UK dental profession already belongs to Dental Protection, so it is not unusual for us to have two or more members involved in the same case. In some countries of the world, 90% or more of the dental profession are our members. If we (or the members involved) believe that there is an actual or potential conflict of interest, we simply arrange for entirely separate representation of each member, giving them access to separate dento-legal advisers, and (where necessary) separate firms of solicitors and separate barristers. In one complex case a few years ago we had 11 members involved, each of which had entirely separate representation. They were all entirely satisfied that their interests were never compromised at any stage.

If you would prefer to have separate professional indemnity in your own right, you can obtain this, if you want to, at a very reasonable cost. The choice is yours. Top

Q5. But if my indemnity against negligence claims is provided free of charge through the professional indemnity of my employing dentist, what happens if I am no longer working for that dentist when a claim is made months or years later, that involves me?

This is one of the many advantages of occurrence-based indemnity (see also Q6). With this type of indemnity as provided by Dental Protection, all that matters is that you were included in your former employer's indemnity at the time of the incident. This means that we can still help you, irrespective of how many years ago the incident took place, and whether or not you are still working for that dentist (or working in dentistry at all). Top

Q6. What's the difference between occurrence-based indemnity, and a claims-made insurance policy? Doesn't it amount to the same thing?

No it doesn't. Occurrence-based indemnity is based on the date of the incident that gives rise to a complaint, claim or other process. If you are a member of a professional indemnity organisation such as Dental Protection, and you are paying the right subscription in an appropriate category on the day of the incident, then you are entitled to seek assistance and indemnity at any time in the future, no matter how many years pass between the incident, and when a claim or complaint arises from it. You may have left dentistry, left the country or stopped being a member in the intervening period - it doesn't matter. Your right to seek assistance with problems arising from incidents in previous periods of membership stays 'alive' through career breaks, maternity absences, and other similar situations - you only need to pay a subscription for periods when you are actually working, or involved in dentistry. Occurrence-based indemnity is recognised as the gold standard for all healthcare professionals, but it is particularly well suited to the needs of dental nurses.

A claims-made insurance policy however, must be in force both when the original incident occurs, and when the subsequent claim is made. Because it is an insurance policy, it will also have a list of terms, conditions and exclusion clauses which specify situations when no cover will be available, even though you had paid a premium at the relevant time. You should read the small print very carefully and take legal advice on it if necessary. The policy may have ceased to be in force by the time the claim is made (you may have decided to stop paying the premium, or it may have been a ‘block policy', dependent upon you remaining a member of a particular organisation. If you ever cease to be a member of that organisation, you may lose to right to indemnity for any claims that materialise after that, but relating to incidents that occurred while you were covered by the policy).

You may also discover that the policy excludes a variety of criminal acts in relation to taking x-rays, health and safety, infection control, data protection, discrimination or involvement in inappropriate claims (NHS). Top

Q7. What if I am not actually employed by the dentist with whom I am working? How sure can I be that I am indemnified by that dentist, or by my actual employee, if I do something that results in a negligence claim?

The GDC position statement giving advice to dental registrants on this subject (March 2007) is as follows:

‘If you are relying on arrangements made by your employer without arranging either a policy of your own or joining a defence organisation, you have a responsibility to check the position with your employer.......The Council would find it unacceptable for a registrant in this situation to rely on unfounded assumptions about what their employer might do. At a minimum, you should check that the issue is fully covered in your employment contract, and what the arrangements are.'

If you have been included in any dentist's membership for the purposes of providing you with indemnity against negligence claims, you can ask for a copy of a membership certificate confirming this. Top

Q8. I work for a locum agency, and am actually employed by the agency itself, rather than the practises where I am placed. How does that affect my indemnity?

This almost certainly means that you would be unwise to rely upon the indemnity of the dentists with whom you are placed from time to time. The locum agency may only be insured or otherwise indemnified for the acts and omissions of nurses who are employed by or working under contract with them, at the time when a claim is made. This may be months or years after the date of the relevant treatment, by which time you may no longer be involved with that agency. To best protect yourself, you would be wiser to take out full indemnity in your own name, so that you are not dependent upon the indemnity arrangements made by, and maintained by, others with whom you may have only a short-term relationship. Top

Q9. I am an NHS employee in a Community Clinic. They employ me and I don't work anywhere else. My boss tells me that I am insured through Crown Indemnity, just like he is, and therefore I don't need to have my own professional indemnity. Is he right?

Firstly, you need to understand that Crown Indemnity and NHS Indemnity is not insurance. It is discretionary indemnity, which exists primarily to protect the Trust itself, not the individuals working within it. There is a widespread assumption that the individuals are ‘covered' automatically, but this is not necessarily the case. In the case of a dental nurse who is following the agreed internal procedures of the Trust, it is highly unlikely that the nurse would be left to meet the cost of a negligence claim against the Trust, arising from the nurse's acts and omissions. But the Trust - like any other employer - does have a legal right to seek ‘contribution and indemnity' from the employee personally if the employee has not followed agreed procedures, or has acted in a particularly reckless or irresponsible fashion against the employer's interests.

Having your own professional indemnity gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you have the right to seek help, advice and financial indemnity against any costs and damages involved. What's more, once you are registered, a patient (or your employer, or even a former employer with whom you are in dispute) could make a complaint about you to the GDC. NHS/Crown indemnity gives you no protection or support at all in this situation, but having your own membership of a protection organisation means that you can have access to personal advice, guidance and support (including a 24 hour emergency helpline to experienced dento-legal advisers), and the costs of representation by specialist solicitors and barristers (where necessary) can be met on your behalf.

Dental nurses are unlikely to become involved in Inquests and Fatal Accident Inquiries, but it is possible, and again, NHS/Crown Indemnity doesn't provide any support or representation for individuals in these situations. Top

Q10. Most of the dentists I work with are members of Dental Protection, and I have seen some of the publications they receive. Would I be entitled to receive these (or any other) publications from you, if I were to become a member?

Yes. Many of our publications are sent to each and every one of our 62,000 or more members in 70 countries around the world. In addition to this, we also publish over 15 more targeted publications for different groups of members such as those in the salaried services, hygienists and therapists, students, young dentists, etc. Dental nurses will become another such group and will be entitled to receive publications relevant to them. Meanwhile, dental nurses who become members can access all our online publications via our website, and enjoy the substantial member discounts on offer, as well as being invited to attend our seminars and other events at a heavily reduced member price. Top

Dental Protection Limited (registered in England No. 2374160) is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Medical Protection Society Limited (MPS) which is registered in England (No.36142). Both companies have their registered office at 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PS.

 

Dental Protection Limited serves and supports the dental members of MPS, with access to the full range of benefits of membership which are all discretionary and set out in MPS’s Memorandum and Articles of Association. MPS is not an insurance company.

 

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