All volunteer roles should be risk assessed prior to placing a volunteer. This should be done in collaboration with the department manager and consider specific duties that a volunteer may be undertaking.
It is best practice to undertake a separate children’s risk assessment of the department where someone under the age of 18 will be volunteering. This becomes mandatory if the volunteer is under the age of 16. In addition, volunteers under the age of 18 should always be supervised, and again this becomes mandatory if the volunteer is under the age of 16.
The NHS Litigation Authority (NHS LA) is the insurer for NHS Trusts. The NHS LA will automatically cover anyone on NHS premises under their Public Liability Insurance Policy (so if they hurt themselves the Trust is covered). The NHS LA will also cover all employees, volunteers, contracted staff, agency staff, students, work experience, clinical attachments and Bank staff who are working within the Trust with the knowledge and approval of the Trust, under their Employee Liability Insurance policy.
This covers the Trust for claims against one of these ‘staff’ groups where their actions have resulted in injury or harm to another person or their belongings.
Volunteers are therefore insured to undertake the activities they have been appointed to do, providing that they comply with the boundaries, policies and procedures of the Trust. If they undertake any activity of their own volition, that they have not been appointed to do or that does not comply with the policies and procedures of the Trust, they are not insured and so may be personally liable.
For more information go to the NHS LA website at http://www.nhsla.com/Claims/Pages/Volunteer.aspx
It is advisable to check with the Trust legal department that the NHS LA cover includes volunteers who are under 18 years old as this may not always be included in the policy.
It is also important to note here is that this does not automatically cover those aged under 16. Individual Trusts may or may not choose to extend their insurance policy to cover this group (at extra cost) and if you intend to take volunteers or work experience students under the age of 16 you must first check to see if your Trust has the appropriate insurance cover.
In addition, you may wish to consider whether it is appropriate for children under the age of 16 to be volunteering in certain healthcare environments.
For more information regarding risk assessment and volunteering please contact you local NAVSM hub group