Written Answers. - Medical Defence Union.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

373 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps he proposes to take regarding the spiralling cost of indemnity cover for obstetricians, in view of the expectations that the Medical Defence Union will increase its subscriptions for the specialty to new record levels in summer 2001. [7956/01]

The Deputy will be aware that my Department is working on the introduction of enterprise liability as the future basis for indemnifying hospitals and doctors against the cost of claims for compen sation arising from malpractice or negligence. I am also in the process of establishing a group to examine the possibility of introducing a needs based "no fault" compensation scheme for infants who suffer brain damage at, or close to, the time of birth. Both of those initiatives have the potential to stabilise the cost of providing indemnity cover for obstetricians. The cost of this cover is directly related to the size of awards and settlements made in respect of brain-damaged babies. Under the existing indemnity arrangements these costs are met by the medical defence organisation which represent consultant obstetricians in those cases. The bulk of this cost is met by the Exchequer in respect of obstetricians employed in the public hospital system. However, the setting of an appropriate subscription rate to fund these costs is a matter for the medical defence organisations.