Tag: web_apps

Medical Defence Union censors blogger, takes money and runs

Everybody hates insurance and insurance companies. Insurance is, at best a necessary evil, and insurance companies are, by their practices, only marginally above pond scum in a lot of people’s minds.

Imagine then an insurance company who sells insurance but who have a clause in their policies saying that in the event of a claim, they reserve the right to refuse to pay!

Nothing to do with whether the claim is legitimate, or not (in fact, the more legitimate the claim, the less likely they are to pay), but just ‘cos they feel like it!

This is very akin to the situation with the Medical Defence Union. According to a recent post on the McGarr Solicitor’s blog (now deleted), the MDU’s contract with doctor’s means that:

Medical practitioner members are not contractually entitled to indemnity from the MDU; they are offered the benefit of the serious consideration of the MDU to extend an indemnity. That is, MDU will not lightly refuse an indemnity. If it does indemnify, it will behave just like an insurer, but if not, not.

Yeah, we’ll take your money and you can tell your patients you are covered to operate on them but at the first sign of trouble, you are on your own sonny.

Why would doctors in Ireland sign up to such a crappy contract? Lack of an alternative provider.

Why am I posting about this? Well, I saw a post on the McGarr Solicitor’s blog mentioning that their post on this matter had been removed after they received a letter from the solicitor’s of the MDU.

Fortunately Google cached the post (see the full text below) so we can all read it.

What amazes me is that there is so little in the post which could be considered controversial and yet the MDU decided to censor it.

No matter how strongly you might disagree with this kind of charlatanism (and subsequent censorship of it being reported), do not reproduce the text of the McGarr Solicitor’s post on your own blog. If you reproduce the blog post, you might receive a take-down notice from the solicitors of the MDU.

This would end up costing the MDU legal fees for every take down notice they sent out and I just couldn’t advise people to do that. Especially if you are based outside of Ireland or the UK – that would necessitate the hiring of expensive foreign solicitors.

If I were evil, I might say – “go ahead, reproduce the blog post, the more the merrier”, but that is not me!

The text of McGarr Solicitor’s deleted post:

QUESTION: When is an insurer not an insurer?

ANSWER: When it is the Medical Defence Union (MDU) or a copycat version of it. (See Link)
Medical practitioners are obliged (for self and patient protection) to have professional indemnity insurance.

An insurer (usually an insurance company) is an entity contractually bound to indemnify the insured in the event of a loss or claim arising within the risk insured against. Building insurance and motor insurance policies are common examples.

Professional indemnity insurance indemnifies the insured professional against claims arising from alleged negligence of the professional in the practice of the profession. Doctors, lawyers, architects or engineers all need insurance of this type.

Confusion, it might be thought, would not surround such an issue, but in the case of the Medical Defence Union, it does.

It offers membership to doctors for a year. That may or may not be renewed. ( See Link )

Medical practitioner members are not contractually entitled to indemnity from the MDU; they are offered the benefit of the serious consideration of the MDU to extend an indemnity. That is, MDU will not lightly refuse an indemnity. If it does indemnify, it will behave just like an insurer, but if not, not. (See Link)

The Irish Department of Health, on hearing of allegations of a lapse from high standards of corporate governance by MDU (the chief executive was in receipt of a higher salary than that of which the non-executive directors were aware), suggested in a letter to MDU that it might withdraw recognition of MDU as an insurer of general practitioners in the Department’s Medical Card Scheme. Of course a body such as MDU is in the absolute control of the directors/executive and not the members, given the contingency of membership.

The Department informed the press that it had sent a copy of its letter to the financial regulators of Ireland and the UK.


The Department, as appears from the report in the Irish Times on 19th September 2006, knows the “indemnity� offered by MDU is at the discretion of MDU.

The financial regulators have no regulatory role over an entity such as MDU.

The Department is in dispute with the MDU, as the MDU retreats from the Irish medical market. MDU will no longer “cover� members in Ireland; the Irish Government will become the indemnifier of the doctors. However, rather than just declining to take new members or continue membership for Irish doctors, MDU, having taken “membership fees� for many years has declined to indemnify some members for “historical claims�.
Which prompts the question; why is the Department of Health, even yet, treating membership of MDU as equivalent to a policy of insurance?

A doctor and his/her patient must have certainty that, in the event of a claim of negligence, given the very high legal costs in establishing the fault or otherwise of the doctor, it cannot be left in doubt that an indemnity will be forthcoming for the claim and the costs associated with it. (See Link )

RecruitIreland adds RSS feeds

Via Mick in a comment on this post comes news that Irish recruitment website RecruitIreland.com is now offering RSS feeds on search results.

RecruitIreland rss feeds

RSS is ideal for recruitment sites, real estate sites, travel sites, etc. basically any site with updating content where people search for information!

On the RecruitIreland site, I like the fact that you can get RSS feeds for the advanced searches however one failing of the advanced search is that you can’t filter for jobs over a certain salary threshold (“I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning for less than…”).

With the recent launch of IE7, RSS is increasingly becoming mainstream. Soon having a site without an RSS feed will be the equivalent of having a toy without batteries – it might be nice to look at but it won’t do anything for you!

Throw away the key!

I’m delighted to see that Bill Lockyer, California’s attorney general has filed felony criminal charges against former HP Chair Patricia Dunn and four others for their spying on fellow board members and on journalists.

The back story to this is that HP were concerned about leaks to the press from HP’s board meetings. An investigation was begun which involved spying on members of the board and various journalists (illegally accessing their phone records amongst other things).

The story broke recently causing havoc on the board (Dunn resigned, as did the general counsel, a second director and two other senior officers).

It will be interesting to see how this affects the company’s stock price.

I used to work for an employer who wouldn’t hesitate to spy on employees – throw away the key I say!

Test post from Windows Live Writer

I’m trying out Windows Live Writer – it is an offline blog editor. Normally I don’t use these preferring to do my blog writing directly in the WordPress interface. I’m happy to see it handles Technorati tags but it doesn’t sit well with the Tag plugin I’m using in WordPress (Ultimate Tag Warrior).

There is a Flickr plugin (and a Firefox plugin – shock!). However, there doesn’t seem to be any compatibility with WordPress Categories. Yet!

The main advantage of an offline blog editor is that it allows you to write posts when you are not connected to the ‘Net however, as I am connected most of the time and the WordPress backend is more functional that the Live Writer, I’ll be sticking with WordPress for now.




Technorati tags:

Aer Lingus and punctuality!

Punctuality and Aer Lingus

This is a photo I took in Zurich airport recently. The tv screen says Boarding at 15:00 while the clock on the right (correctly) shows the time as being 15:15. We didn’t get to board until nearly 15:25.

Even in Switzerland, where everything is supposed to run like clockwork, Aer Lingus manage to be late.

You wouldn’t mind so much if they only told us what was going on and when we were likely to be boarding.


Any questions for Mike Hudack?

Mike Hudack is the founder and the CEO of video sharing service blip.tv which I reviewed here.

I’m interviewing Mike this Monday evening (7th Aug 2006) for a PodLeaders podcast. We will be talking about blip.tv, the video sharing space in general blip.tv’s recent CNN deal, digital media in general and anything else that may arise in the questions!

As always, if you have questions you’d like me to put to him, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll put them to him.

Tom Raftery is on Bad Behaviour!

I see Michael Hampton has released the latest version of his Bad Behaviour plug-in for WordPress. Bad Behaviour is a plugin for:

blocking malicious activity, including blog/wiki spam, e-mail address harvesting, automated cracking attempts, and more. It does all of this looking only at the HTTP request headers; for POST data, the content of the spam is not analyzed at all

I have been using Referrer Karma for this previously and it has proven quite useful. I’m going to try Bad Behaviour for a time now and see which of the two I prefer. One point in Bad Behaviour’s favour is that it has an admin page accessible from within WordPress. With Referrer Karma you need to do your administration seperately.

Via James.