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Doctors can continue to practise with secure medical indemnity arrangements.



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Media Release

Senator the Hon Kay Patterson Minister for Health and Ageing

May 23, 2003

DOCTORS CAN CONTINUE TO PRACTISE WITH SECURE MEDICAL INDEMNITY ARRANGEMENTS Today's announcement by the Prime Minister addresses the remaining concerns for doctors regarding medical indemnity and will secure the continuation of private medical services, the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

The Federal Government's medical indemnity package ensures doctors can continue to practise, secure in the knowledge that they are covered by medical indemnity and patients are assured of access to specialists.

Prime Minister John Howard's announcement today completes the Federal Government's wide-ranging response to the medical indemnity issue by addressing the issues of run-off cover and "blue sky" claims.

Senator Patterson said: "These new measures will ensure a viable and ongoing medical workforce which will ensure patients have affordable access to medical services."

"The Prime Minister's announcement today on additional medical indemnity measures should give doctors peace of mind to continue practising and meeting the needs of their patients."

Doctors have been concerned at the availability and cost of insurance in the event of retirement, disability or death and at their potential exposure for claims made above the limits of insurance on offer.

The Prime Minister announced measures to address doctors' concerns about run-off cover in retirement and the so-called "blue sky" claims above insured limits.

Senator Patterson said the Government's comprehensive package of measures had been developed to ensure that premiums for obstetricians, neurosurgeons and procedural GPs were affordable.

The Government's package has:

● Ensured that doctors are covered for medical indemnity on a commercially sound and sustainable basis and

that patients have on-going access to vital medical services

● Offered financial assistance to certain groups of doctors to ensure their viability and ongoing provision of

important services for patients, while at the same time asking those doctors to undertake quality and safety programs to minimise injuries to patients.

● Required members of medical defence organisations with unfunded incurred but not reported liabilities to

shoulder their responsibilities in meeting their funds' liabilities with a levy to be paid over a manageable period.

Senator Patterson said the Federal Government had delivered the certainty called for by doctors. It was now vital that States and Territories got on with their job of progressing effective tort law and legal system reforms.

For more information contact Minister Patterson's office, 02 6277 7220