Volunteer cover

Social enterprises and independent providers

Guidance on cover

Since April 2013, social enterprises and other independent organisations delivering NHS healthcare have been eligible to join CNST (Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts) direct as members.  However, our Regulations do not permit us to offer cover for all activities undertaken by such bodies as explained below.


Independent sector members must have one or more contracts to deliver NHS healthcare with any of the following:

  • Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • NHS England (NHS Commissioning Board) or
  • Special Health Authorities

Local Authority Contracts

Similarly we are not able to offer cover in respect of contracts with local authorities.  Importantly, this exclusion also applies to contracts which originated with (for example) NHS England, but then transferred to a local authority.

Community Healthcare

We are able to cover such contracts provided that they are with a CCG, NHS England or a Special Health Authority.

Process for applying for CNST (Clinical Negligence Scheme for  Trusts) cover

If you wish to apply for cover as a Social Enterprise, Community Interest Company, or similar please supply:

  • Name of organisation
  • Details of proposed activities
  • Name of organisations with which you are contracting to supply these services
  • Date for commencement of services/cover
  • If reliance is placed upon a Section 75 agreement, a copy of this

Please send this information to john.mead1@nhs.net who will review the request and promptly respond.

In addition, please complete a Whole Time Equivalent Data form and return it to nhsr.income@nhs.net.

Volunteer cover

These notes attempt to clarify what cover is required and from what source it may be obtained. Volunteers and those advising them or utilising their services should check the documentation purporting to provide indemnity, eg Scheme or Policy wordings, and seek their own advice as appropriate. Please note that our schemes only apply to England, and that different arrangements exist for NHS Trusts in other parts of the UK.

Persons volunteering direct to an NHS Trust

Such individuals are covered for Public Liability, Professional Indemnity and related risks by NHS Resolution under the Trust’s membership of the Liabilities to Third Parties Scheme (LTPS), provided that the relevant trust has subscribed. The vast majority of trusts in England are members. There is no age limit (either upper or lower) under the scheme for such volunteers, although particular trusts may have their own rules.

Persons volunteering with other organisations, e.g. Leagues of Friends

Since there is no direct relationship between the volunteer and the trust, these people are not covered by NHS Resolution. However, Attend (formerly the National Association of Hospital and Community Friends) operates an insurance scheme for its members covering relevant risks. Their website is www.attend.org.uk. Please note that organisations not affiliated to Attend do not have the benefit of this arrangement and must therefore seek alternative insurance protection.

Motor risks

We do not cover any form of motor risk, even for NHS-owned vehicles. Volunteers giving lifts to patients, for example, must ensure that they have adequate insurance protection of their own, either under their own personal motor insurance policy or via the policy of the organisation for which they are volunteering.


All volunteers, however briefly or infrequently they offer their services, must have adequate Public Liability and Professional Indemnity cover. For example, a volunteer might inadvertently damage a patient’s luggage by dropping it, cause serious injury by failing to clear up properly after a spillage on the floor of a Friends’ shop, advise a patient negligently as to how to access services, or leave a box of books in a corridor, resulting in someone tripping over it and sustaining a broken leg. These are just a few of the many situations in which a volunteer could incur a liability to others.

Limits of indemnity

Our schemes do not have limits of indemnity. All commercial insurance policies, however, contain such restrictions. We do not seek to advise what would be an adequate limit of indemnity under commercial arrangements, but as an indication, many claims involving serious brain damage, resulting in substantial future care through a long remaining life, are now settling in the region of £5m each, and some at an even higher level.

Checking arrangements

Trusts are strongly advised to check the adequacy of insurance arrangements for all voluntary groups using their premises. It is possible that a trust might be successfully sued in negligence by the injured party, should the relevant volunteer be uninsured, for failing to establish that the volunteer organisation to which the negligent person belongs has relevant insurance in force.






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