We answer some of the common questions on indemnity for dental nurses.

As the GDC's 'Standards for the dental team' sets out at Standard 1.8, all GDC registrants must have appropriate indemnity arrangements in place for patients to seek compensation if they suffer harm. This includes dental nurses, whose GDC annual retention fee is due by the end of July. If you fail to renew in time, your name will be removed from the Register.

Recent changes have raised a few questions among dental professionals, so it's important to know where you stand.

What's new?

A change in the law led to the GDC changing its rules in November 2015. This means all dental professionals applying to register or renew their registration need to tell the GDC that they have indemnity arrangements in place for their scope of practice, or will have by the time they start practising.

It's important to note that this change does not mean that dental nurses have to provide the GDC with an indemnity certificate when they renew their GDC registration each year. They will need to declare that they have indemnity arrangements in place, but will not need to provide evidence to prove it unless specifically asked to do so by the GDC. If the GDC do require proof of indemnity, they will set out what they need from you.

If you're a dental nurse, it's your responsibility for ensuring either that you have access to indemnity in your own right, or that appropriate arrangements are in place through your employer. The GDC recognises both situations, with guidance on indemnity available on its website.

What about employer's vicarious liability?

An employer is legally responsible for the acts and omissions of dental nurses during the course of their employment. If a compensation claim arises alleging that a patient has been negligently harmed when treatment has been provided, a nurse's employer is likely to be financially liable for the legal costs and any patient compensation. This is known as employer's vicarious liability.

As outlined above, dental nurses without their own indemnity must check that their employers have adequate and appropriate indemnity arrangements which they can rely upon if a claim of negligence is made. You can ask your employer for proof of indemnity and for a signed letter confirming that they have access to indemnity for the work you carry out in the practice.

How can the DDU help?

If you're a dental nurse member:

If you're already a DDU member, you can download a document from our website that confirms your membership.

If you're a practice principal member:

If any nurses employed by you need to provide proof that they have adequate indemnity in place, you can download a document from our website that confirms your membership of the DDU. It is our understanding that provision of this document should satisfy the GDC's requirements for proof of indemnity for the nurses employed by you.

Individual dental nurse membership of the DDU gives dental nurses access to other membership benefits, such as dento-legal advice services, as well as providing individual professional indemnity. This means dental nurse members have somewhere to turn for expert dento-legal advice and legal representation in the event of a GDC investigation or disciplinary hearing arising from their clinical practice.

Find out more about membership of the DDU.

This page was correct at publication on 09/06/2016. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.