They have helped to shape medicine as it is today:
Dr Bill Glasson, the former Australian Medical
Association (AMA) President who worked closely
with the government and medical indemnity
industry during the indemnity crisis of the 2000s,
and his wife, Professor Claire Jackson, the former
President of the Royal Australian College of
General Practitioners (RACGP).
Herself the daughter of doctors, Leonard Jackson
and Pamela Jackson, Professor Jackson was
thrilled when her own daughter, Nicola, switched
to medicine after two years studying urban and
regional planning.
All three generations have been proud members
of Avant.
“As doctors, you tend to try to overcompensate
because you love what you do and you don’t
want to put any pressure on your children,” says
Professor Jackson.
“But Nicola is innately a good problem solver and
she’s interested in people. As soon as she started
working with patients, she knew that that was
what she loved.”
This family of medical
leaders goes back with
Avant through the
Avant was a natural choice of medical defence
organisation for the Glassons when they
graduated in the early 1980s because it was,
and remains, Australia’s largest Medial Defence
Organisation (MDO) with a strong Queensland
base. In those days, medical indemnity cover was
cheap and most interns didn’t give their fund
much thought. As litigation spiralled out of control
during the 1980s and 1990s, the Glassons began
to realise the value of a supportive MDO.
“All doctors over 50 continue to carry significant
anxiety about indemnity and litigation because
of that time,” says Professor Jackson.
“It was an incredibly scary time to be a doctor; we
had indemnity tails that were 20 years long, all the
assets you had built up were under threat, and it
changed doctors’ mindset.
“You still see it today with young interns and
residents who are often more focused on referring
to multiple specialists and ordering tests rather
than relying on their clinical acumen. Much of this
is driven by litigation anxiety.”
Dr Glasson was at an AMA conference in Vietnam
in 2003 when he was called home by the AMA
NSW to attend a rally of some 4000 doctors in
Randwick, protesting their inability to obtain
medical indemnity cover or continue with the
status quo.
He flew home, addressed the conference and
spoke to then Prime Minister John Howard that
afternoon. A cabinet reshuffle saw Tony Abbott
take over as health minister who, together with
the AMA and the industry, shaped a solution to
achieve industry stability.
“We now have an affordable and sustainable
industry, and most of that is thanks to the Howard
government with Tony Abbott and the sensible
leadership of the insurance industry of the time,”
says Dr Glasson, who has recently entered the
fray of federal politics in the seat of Griffith.
While neither has called on Avant for support at
a personal level, both Dr Glasson and Professor
Jackson have been impressed with the high
level of professionalism and empathy they have
observed from Avant during their time as
health leaders.
“As RACGP president, I saw several doctors who
have been aggressively and, I believe in retrospect,
inappropriately pursued and I have been incredibly
impressed by the diligence with which Avant has
defended and personally supported those
members,” says Professor Jackson.
“They are always professional and quick to
respond. They really value their members.”
Dr Bill Glasson,
Professor Claire Jackson and
their daughter Nicola.
Image: James Robertson
Celebrating 120 years
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