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Doctors union blasts ACC proposal

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, June 27 NZPA - A doctors' union has taken exception to a suggestion that doctors should be charged for medical mistakes as a way to try and reduce the ACC levy load on workers and businesses.

ACC chairman John Judge said the option, together with a potential levy on alcohol and introducing the equivalent to an insurance excess, would be put to the board as alternatives to levies hikes, the Sunday Star Times reported today.

"There is no incentive on the hospital to improve its safety because we bear all the costs," Mr Judge said.

"So perhaps we should be levying them and give them rebates as they improve their performance."

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell said any talk of financially penalising doctors and hospitals over treatment injuries missed the point.

"Mr Judge ignores the fact that when things go wrong, overwhelmingly they are due to systems errors rather than personal mistakes," he said.

"Fiscally penalising financially strapped public hospitals will only make it more difficult to improve systems and would risk compromising standards of patient care."

Mr Powell said Mr Judge's comments inferred there were no incentives for public hospitals and doctors to prevent treatment injuries.

"This is way off beam. Doctors are governed by their own professional and ethical codes as well as the disciplinary and registration authorities set up under legislation... They are also publicly subjected to periodic scrutiny by the media."

A spokesman from ACC Minister Nick Smith's office said none of the proposals suggested by Mr Judge had been received or considered and it was "highly unlikely the Government would proceed with any of these options".

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