DHSC to offer care home insurance for taking discharged Covid patients

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has set out plans to offer insurance cover to care homes that take in discharged Covid patients from hospitals.

In a statement to the House of Commons, DHSC undersecretary Nadhim Zahawi (pictured) said 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. 

The designated setting scheme is for people who are medically fit for discharge from hospital - i.e. they do not require to be in an acute NHS bed - but whose ongoing care and support needs are such that they require full-time residential or nursing care.

Zahawi said the government recognised obtaining sufficient insurance to accept Covid positive patients and sign up to become a designated setting has been a barrier for some care home providers wishing to join the scheme.

“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,” he added.

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. 

Care England, which has long called for the government to help with insurance including a letter to the Prime Minister at the tail end of last year, said it is "delighted" with the offer because the majority of care homes are in the independent sector and, unlike their counterparts in the NHS, do not have automatic indemnity.

"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," added chief executive Professor Martin Green.

Independent Care Group chairman Mike Padgham said on Twitter that the statement on insurance for designated settings is welcome “but the devil will be in the detail”.

“First impression (is) it is a step in the right direction but likely needs to go further,” he added.

The National Care Forum said the measure did not go far enough.

"It is a temporary solution only committed to until the end of March, with a review due in mid-February," said executive director Vic Rayner.

"We continue our call on the government to address the wider insurance issues for the sector and to extend the indemnity arrangements to the entire social care sector on parity with our colleagues in the NHS."