I have two questions that are joined for you.
Firstly, If you follow the link you will come to the HSU membership benefits page where it states a number of reasons why the union provides professional indemnity insurance:
- Members can be sued as individuals.
- Employers may not be able to indemnify their employees due to insufficient insurance arrangements or impending insolvency.
- Employers may seek to recover financial losses when members are deemed to have acted outside the scope of their normal duties or authorities.
- Members can be sued individually for Good Samaritan acts.
Considering HSU is a union for ‘If you work in NSW or ACT in public health, private health, aged care, some disability services or in the NSW Ambulance Service’ is the rationale/claims justified? In specific reference to paramedics in NSW Ambulance:
- Surely no none would sue an individual paramedic, rather sue NSW Health, under the big pocket theory?
- I cannot imagine NSW Ambulance, being a arm of NSW Health, would not ever have insufficient insurance arrangements or an impending insolvency?
- Considering that an employee would have to be acting way outside the scope and nature of their employment (off on a frolic) it is unlikely that point three would occur?
- Based on your previous posts, I cannot see a paramedic being sued for Good Samaritan acts?
Unless I am way of the mark I cannot see this member benefit being required for most paramedics who work for NSW Ambulance? That is not to say that these benefits may be useful and required for members who work in ‘…public health, private health, aged care, or disability services’.
Secondly, Once paramedics (thinking positively) gain national registration under AHPRA it is likely that we will have similar registration standards to nurses and other health care professionals. One of those standards is currently that a nurse must have professional indemnity insurance arrangements. I am lead to believe that nurses who work in public hospitals for NSW Health do not normally gain their own insurance, instead meet this criteria because of the vicarious liability of NSW Health.
If this is correct, do you anticipate paramedics working for a statutory ambulance service requiring private indemnity insurance, i.e. if so would this HSU insurance suffice? Or should being in genuine employment be sufficient?
Limiting this discussion to paramedics employed by NSW ambulance (but see, for a related discussion, see Insurance for first aiders (August 13, 2014)).
Let me get straight to the questions, and answers.
Surely no none would sue an individual paramedic, rather sue NSW Health, under the big pocket theory?
Quite right, no-one would sue the individual paramedic. Even if they did I would expect the state would quickly assert that they are liable for the actions of their employee (see West & Anor v State of New South Wales & Anor  ACTSC 43; New South Wales v Fahy  HCA 20; Gardner v Northern Territory  NTCA 14).
I cannot imagine NSW Ambulance, being a arm of NSW Health, would not ever have insufficient insurance arrangements or an impending insolvency?
Again quite right. NSW Ambulance is part of NSW Health and part of the Crown in Right of NSW (Health Services Act 1997 (NSW) s 115; Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (NSW)). They are insured by the NSW Treasury Managed Fund (NSW Self Insurance Corporation Act 2004 (NSW)) and if the managed fund doesn’t have the resources to pay (and it does) there is the state’s consolidated revenue that can be called upon. Insolvency of the employer is not an issue.
Considering that an employee would have to be acting way outside the scope and nature of their employment (off on a frolic) it is unlikely that point three would occur?
I agree, and if they were that far outside the scope of their employment and professional practice, the HSU insurance policy would not apply either. Just as the employer won’t be liable for say sexual assault of the patient, neither would the HSU policy.
Based on your previous posts, I cannot see a paramedic being sued for Good Samaritan acts?
I agree. If they’re at work they are not ‘good Samaritans’ but their employer is vicariously liable. If they are not at work they will be protected by the Good Samaritan provisions of the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) and in any event, the chances of getting sued are so close to zero as to make insurance unnecessary (see, again, see Insurance for first aiders (August 13, 2014)).
As for ‘Employers may seek to recover financial losses when members are deemed to have acted outside the scope of their normal duties or authorities’. If the are so far outside their employment to allow the employer to avoid vicarious liability, then the employer wont be liable so wont suffer those losses. Where an employer is liable, he, she or it cannot seek to recover losses from an employer (Employees Liability Act 1991 (NSW) s 3)).
With respect to professional registration and insurance that remains to be seen. Under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, cl 129 ‘A registered health practitioner must not practise the health profession in which the practitioner is registered unless appropriate professional indemnity insurance arrangements are in force in relation to the practitioner’s practice of the profession’. It is likely that practitioners acting solely as employees, particularly employees of state ambulance service, will be sufficiently covered by the employer’s insurance arrangements but that of course remains to be seen. Whether the HSU policy would be sufficient for those wanting private insurance or working outside the public sector that would depend on the terms of the policy and the requirements of the Paramedics Board, if and when it comes into existence.