Doctors should have insurance, indemnities are not enough

The government accepts that medical professionals should have indemnity cover against cases of medical negligence but the Medical Defence Union says this move would not go far enough to satisfy the needs of doctors and patients.

An independent review was carried out in June into the feasibility of requiring people to have indemnity in order to become a registered healthcare professional.

Dr Matthew Lee from the MDU said he was disappointed that the review did not take into consideration the actual indemnity itself. The majority of patients are unaware that about half the doctors and 70% of dentists rely on discretionary indemnity rather than insurance. This means that there is no guarantee and they will only find out if they will be covered for a medical negligence claim when they make notification of that claim.

Medical professionals do not have a right to an indemnity; rather they just have a right to ask. The MDU is aware of cases where patients did not receive medical negligence compensation because discretionary assistance was not forthcoming. Victims of medical negligence deserve compensation when they can prove that negligence occurred.

After all, he continued, you cannot insure your house or property with discretionary indemnity so why should it be acceptable for medical negligence?

The MDU is therefore urging the coalition to reconsider whether the requirement for discretionary indemnity is sufficient or appropriate.

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