The AMA welcomes the no-fault indemnity scheme for GPs

Amidst the vaccine chaos and confusion this week, the no-fault indemnity scheme provides some welcome relief.

The National Cabinet announcement of a no-fault indemnity scheme for GPs and vaccine providers was welcome news. AMA first proposed such an insurance scheme in January and worked closely with Government to get it introduced. 

In the very rare circumstances where patients believe they have been injured by a vaccine, they will be able access support or compensation if required, without the need to include their doctor or nurse in legal action. 

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said, “Nearly all patients and doctors will never need to use the indemnity scheme, but having it in place will give peace of mind to patients and doctors alike.

“For such a scheme to be effective and fair, we knew it needed to cover all vaccines, administered to all age groups and be applied retrospectively for GPs delivering as part of the Commonwealth rollout, so we are really pleased the government has taken this on board,“ he said.

The AMA will work with government to extend the Medicare support for COVID-19 vaccine consultations with Australians under the age of 50, to support GPs in providing information to patients around the risks and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines and making an informed decision. 

Other decisions made by National Cabinet this week include mandatory vaccination for quarantine and aged care health workers and a day-16 COVID test. These are also positive moves, and the AMA had been calling for mandatory vaccinations for these workers.  

Dr Khorshid said, “The initial focus on the aged care residents was a reasonable decision at the time, but the low rate of vaccination of aged care workers is unacceptable and we need to redouble our efforts to get them fully vaccinated as soon as possible. 

“We also welcome sensible changes to quarantine arrangements. The day 16 test for returned travellers, mandatory vaccination and testing for quarantine workers and separation of high and low risk travellers in quarantine are all logical steps - and all overdue given the breaches of quarantine that are currently impacting the lives of almost every Australian,” Dr Khorshid said.

There is still more to be done by National Cabinet. The AMA believes National Cabinet is still failing to agree on a nationally consistent approach to outbreaks and agreed triggers for lockdown, border closures and other social restrictions. An outbreak in one city or state puts the whole country at risk. An agreed approach would detail the appropriate triggers for lockdown, border closures and other social restrictions like limits on crowds at sporting events and help protect the whole country from COVID-19. 

Read the transcript of a doorstop press conference here.

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