World's biggest medical indemnity company exits the market

13 Dec 2001

Australia's medical indemnity situation worsened today with news that St.Paul, the world's biggest medical indemnity insurer, is moving out of the medical malpractice business globally.

AMA Vice-President, Dr Trevor Mudge, said things are grim when the world's biggest medical insurer no longer has the confidence to insure the medical profession.

"Globally, St. Paul has the greatest experience and expertise in this area, and they have made a commercial decision that it is no longer viable to continue,"

Dr Mudge said.

"The litigation system with its huge payouts is scaring off the insurers.

"The disturbing reality is that some medical procedures in Australia are now virtually uninsurable, and this includes obstetrics, neurosurgery and orthopaedics.

"We face a situation where medical services the community take for granted will be more expensive and less accessible unless, as a community, we face this problem and find a solution as a matter of urgency.

"Many doctors are already questioning their future in the profession.

"Patients are facing the prospect of paying more for services that will be harder to find locally.

"It is no longer an issue for State governments or local communities.

"Medical indemnity is a national crisis of the highest order that requires the attention and leadership of the Federal Government.

"It is time for national action before the entire medical indemnity system collapses and vital medical services disappear from communities.

"The Federal Government must work with the States, the medical and legal professions, and the general community to put in place a system that ensures quality affordable medical services remain available to all Australians wherever they may live," Dr Mudge said.

CONTACT: John Flannery (02) 6270 5477 / (0419) 494 761

Sarah Crichton (02) 6270 5472 / (0419) 440 076

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