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Catholic Health urges Govt to come clean on medical indemnity

The CEO of Catholic Health Australia has challenged the Federal Government to release a "legal framework that will provide certainty and security for all parties" affected by insurer United Medical Protection's decision to go into voluntary liquidation.

CHA CEO Francis Sullivan said the Government's lack of leadership on the decision "has already begun to impact on private hospitals, particularly in Queensland".

Surgeons and general practitioners, mainly in NSW and Queensland, told hundreds of private patients their procedures would not take place because of the collapse.

"UMP's announcement yesterday of its intention to close shop has sent alarm bells ringing for surgeons and therefore for private hospitals," Mr Sullivan said. "In order to prevent a national catastrophe, the government must act now to ensure transparency in this highly sensitive issue."

"Already surgeons have cancelled lists in three hospital in private hospitals in Qld for today. Accident and emergency services have also been affected," he said. "The greatest impact will be felt by hospitals who provide neurosurgery, obstetrics and orthopaedics, all high risk practices."

Mr Sullivan said that strong leadership is essential in order to protect the country's private hospitals from financial ruin.

"Contrary to popular belief, private hospitals run their operations very close to the bone. There's not a lot of slack to absorb a disaster like this," he said. "The Catholic sector has a number of relatively new private hospitals, which are at serious risk."

Bail-out plan as doctors withdraw (AFR)


30 Apr 2002