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New Zealand Doctors Warned About Australia

The New Zealand Medical Association is warning doctors to be extremely careful if they are planning to work in Australia because of the medical indemnity crisis there.

Australia's largest medical indemnity insurer, United Medical Protection, was yesterday placed into liquidation. The media has reported that many doctors in private practice have stopped working while they review their options.

"The NZMA and the Medical Protection Society (MPS) are warning New Zealand doctors that they should be extremely cautious about working in Australia, and be very careful to ensure they have medical indemnity cover," NZMA CEO Cameron McIver said.

"Doctors from New Zealand who are planning to work in Australia should make absolutely certain they are indemnified. If their indemnifier is a public hospital, they should find out who the hospital's indemnifier is."

In New Zealand around 95 percent of doctors receive medical indemnity protection from the UK-based MPS, which is administered here by the NZMA.

MPS New Zealand medico-legal advisor Dr Peter Robinson said MPS is completely independent and separate from UMP. There is no connection between what is happening in Australia and the New Zealand system.

"Doctors working in New Zealand, and covered by MPS, can be confident that they will continue to be covered. MPS is in a sound financial situation," Dr Robinson said.

"The collapse of UMP has been brought about by uniquely Australian conditions, including some multi-million dollar settlements paid out to successful litigants. The situation in New Zealand is very different."

Some New Zealand doctors working as short-term locums in Australian are covered by MPS.

UMP indemnified about 32,000, or 60 per cent, of Australia's doctors, including 90 per cent of those in New South Wales and Queensland. Its collapse has left many without cover, and emergency meetings have been held between the Australian Government and medical leaders to try to resolve the crisis.


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