Doctors wait for details

WA DOCTORS cannot rest easy about their indemnity position from July 1, while some details of changes in State and Federal Government indemnity support remain unknown, the State’s major medical representative groups said this week.

Some practitioners have said they will not perform any procedures or operations during July, WA AMA president Dr Bernard Pearn-Rowe said.

“There is a lot of confusion and uncertainty,” he said.

Earlier this week, the WA Government provided answers for some practitioners via a question-and-answer information package, sent out draft insurance contracts to rural and regional doctors, and approved significant tort law reform affecting medical claims.

However, the AMA said the Government had left its run incredibly late. Some doctors would now have less than ten working days in which to get advice before returning contracts.

Dr Pearn-Rowe said the WA Government had not understood the subtleties and complexities of what it had wanted to offer in agreeing to cover private practitioners treating public patients in public hospitals from July 1.

Many doctors work under an incorporated company, of which they are the sole employee, and these and others who operate under “dozens of different arrangements” are unsure if the Government’s plan covers them.

The uncertainty applies to most rural doctors who provide surgical services to public patients in public hospitals and to those doctors who care for public patients at the Joondalup and Peel hospitals.

Doctors are also unsure if procedures and operations booked months in advance of July 1 will be covered, even though they will be performed after then.

Kalgoorlie doctor and General Practice Divisions of WA chair Charley Nadin says doctors require detail and formal confirmation before they are assured.

The same goes for Federal Government plans, announced last month, to cover the gap between claims and the maximum amount for which doctors can insure themselves.

The Federal Government’s indemnity reimbursement proposal for rural GPs who perform obstetrics and surgery is also a sore point for some, in particular rural surgical specialists who are not included.

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