A new state law has introduced a measure that will ensure all doctors who perform medical procedures are paid the same for their work as they would be for a regular patient.
The bill, called the Patient Safety Compensation (PSC) Act, will provide financial incentives for doctors who make a “substantial contribution” to the care of the public, and is expected to save the state about $1.3 billion over three years.
The PSC Act was introduced by the Victorian Premier Matthew Guy on Thursday.
It’s expected to pass the state Parliament and be introduced in the state parliament on March 2.
“The PSC law will ensure that all physicians, who perform the majority of the primary, secondary and tertiary health services in the State, receive the same compensation, regardless of the type of care they provide,” Victorian Premier Matt Guy said.
“It’s an important step forward in ensuring that doctors receive the best possible compensation and are rewarded for the quality of their care.”
Mr Guy said the PSC was “a necessary and appropriate measure to address the serious problem of malpractice and medical negligence”.
“The Government has taken action to address this problem,” he said.
He said the government had also introduced a range of measures to reduce the burden of medical malpractice, including requiring doctors to register with the Department of Health, which will increase the number of people being registered with the Victorian Medical Council.
He also announced a review of medical liability insurance companies and made it easier for the Victorian Government to set up insurance companies to insure doctors.
“We are also going to be reviewing our medical liability policy and looking at the way in which medical liability is administered and paid out,” he told the ABC.
“There are a range in terms of how much money should be paid out, and we are also looking at other ways that we can help to reduce our reliance on that.”
The PSS is a voluntary insurance scheme, which provides a pool of funds to doctors, who have to pay a premium into the scheme.
The premium is set at a fixed amount per patient and can be waived.
The system was introduced in 2007.
It allows doctors to pay out an additional amount if the costs of the treatment exceed a certain amount.
If the payments are more than a certain threshold, the payment is reduced.
“These payments are paid out at the point of care, so they are not paid in the hospital, or when the patient is transferred from hospital to hospital, but they are paid directly into the doctors fund,” Mr Guy explained.
The payment is based on the number and type of procedures performed, the quality and depth of the hospitalisation, and whether the patient died.
It is set to expire on December 31, 2021.
In a statement, the Victorian Health Department said the new law would “provide incentives to doctors who have made substantial contributions to the health and safety of the community”.
The health department said the legislation would provide incentives to “properly deliver primary care services and prevent unnecessary and unneeded medical expenses”.
“It is anticipated that the bill will be introduced into the Victorian Parliament by the end of March.”
The Victorian Health Minister, Dr Sarah Scott, said the law would help ensure doctors were compensated for the “quality and depth” of their work.
“In order to have a safe and healthy practice, we need to make sure that primary care doctors are compensated appropriately and appropriately, which is why this new legislation will help ensure that doctors are paid properly and appropriately for their contributions to public health,” Dr Scott said.
Victorian hospitals will also be required to have at least five “gold standards” for their primary care, with the first two requiring a minimum of two years’ experience in the practice and a minimum 5 per cent increase in the rate of the general practitioner and primary care nurse in the last five years.
This will also apply to all hospitals in Victoria.
Health Minister Sarah Scott said the bill would help doctors who work in the health system.
“I know there are people who want to do things the right way,” she said.
Dr Scott also said the Victorian Hospital and GPs Association (VHAGPA) supported the bill.
“VHAgpa has been very supportive of the legislation, and has encouraged the Victorian government to introduce it into the state legislatures,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“But the VHAgPA is not endorsing the legislation in any way, shape or form.”
Victorian Hospital Association chairman, Dr John Williams, said there was “little chance” the bill was passed.
“Our association is not involved in the process of drafting this legislation, so we can’t comment on it,” he explained.
“This is the first step in a process that is taking place between the Victorian State Government and the Victorian Union of GPs.”
Dr Williams said he expected the legislation to be passed by the Parliament in March.
The Victorian Government has said it would look at the impact of the PSS on the health of the patients who received it