The Vice President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Mr Peter Woodruff, today announced that he will quit private practice because of rising medical indemnity costs.
The announcement came as senior representatives of the surgical profession said that they have never seen it worse for surgery in Australia and cannot guarantee enough surgeons will stay working in the public or the private system.
Surgeons have received levies for claims Incurred But Not Reported (IBNR Levy) in the last week, which in some cases is taking the amount they are paying for medical indemnity insurance into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.College Vice President, Peter Woodruff, will be joined in Sydney today by some of the most experienced surgeons in Australia to again call on the Government to do more to solve the medical indemnity issue which is crippling the delivery of surgical services in this country.
"We want a stop to the band-aid solutions which are going to cost the government, surgeons and ultimately patients a lot of money without fixing the long-term problem.All the government is doing is plugging holes in what appears to be the sinking ships of medical indemnity organisations.
"We need a sustainable solution in which doctors can have certainty about their medical indemnity.We need to know we are covered for past events as well as in retirement.We need the government to restructure the insurance system so that this certainty can be achieved, at an affordable cost, as currently it simply is not," Mr Woodruff
Although Mr Woodruff's decision to quit private practice was met with much disappointment by his
patients and the College, he
says that his
departure will be one of many.
"The College has been tracking the departure of surgeons from all specialities over the past few months because the cost of medical insurance has seen an unprecedented exodus from the profession.
"Our latest survey shows that one in eight surgeons will leave, or will have already left, by the end of the year.
"The loss of surgeons as a result of the medical indemnity crisis compounds an already existing shortage of surgeons, which a recent study has suggested is only going to become worse in the future.
"We know now that unless we increase surgical trainee positions by 30 per cent across Australia we will not have enough surgeons to meet the expected 50 per cent increase in demand for surgical services within the next 20 years, as predicted in the recently published Birrell report," Mr Woodruff
said.Mr Woodruff will today be joined by Mr Phil Truskett, Vice President of the College's NSW Committee, and Dr Andrew Pesce, Secretary of the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and representative of the Australian Medical Association, to say that the issue is creating so much uncertainty in the profession that in some surgical specialities and some regions in Australia there will be no surgeons operating at all.
"We can't maintain numbers now; what happens a couple of years down the track is anybody's guess," Mr Woodruff