A recent article in the Financial Mail contained misleading information about MPS – the Medical Protection Society – writes Graham Craig, MPS Business Development Director for South Africa. He has written a rebuttal “to address the issues raised and set out the facts”.
At MPS we are often asked what it means to be a member-owned organisation. This is not surprising as in many ways we are unique. I cannot think of another organisation that is owned by members around the world, works on a not-for-profit basis, has such a long successful track record and which is solely dedicated to providing protection and support to healthcare professionals.
This uniqueness is what drove me to want to work for MPS, after working for many years for insurance companies, and it is also this that draws thousands of doctors and dentists to join the organisation each year.
However, our uniqueness also sometimes leads to misleading representation about who we are and how we work, most recently in the form of comments by competitors in the media. Some members have been in contact after reading the article and I therefore wanted to address the issues raised and set out the facts.
You own MPS
MPS is an organisation that is run for and owned by its members – doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals. We exist to protect the careers, reputations and financial security of our members.
Members pay subscriptions that go into a pool. If they face a complaint, claim, regulatory investigation or any other matter, members have a right to request assistance from this fund.
We inform members when they join and make it clear that members are not purchasing an insurance policy but are subscribing for membership in MPS and the accompanying benefits.
This mutual model is an accepted and proven form of indemnity provision in more than 20 countries, and one that has been in operation globally for more than 125 years, and for more than 60 years in South Africa.
You can request protection when you need it
Members trust that we will stand by them – sometimes when necessary all the way to the Constitutional Court – and it is precisely because of our discretionary structure that we are able to do this without having to refer to the details of an insurance policy.
The discretionary indemnity we provide is flexible and responsive – since the scope of assistance offered to the member can be wider than the precise policy wording of contractual insurance.
As we are run for and owned by healthcare professionals, our focus is on protecting members’ careers and reputations, not generating profits. We approach each request with a mindset of ‘how can we help’.
We would never refuse to assist a member purely on the basis of the financial implications or compromise protection due to the need to make a profitable return each year for shareholders.
This is backed up by the facts. In the past 12 months, we have said ‘yes’ to over 99% of requests for assistance that were within benefit. We know this compares extremely well to any insurance provider.
You can rely on us being here for the long-term
I have worked for a number of insurance companies and now a discretionary indemnity provider. Like everyone else, I have several insurance policies to cover many of the usual risks in life. However, I also know that insurance companies by their nature have to draw a profit and if they do not see a long-term profit in a market they will have to withdraw.
At MPS we have offered protection to members in South Africa for over 60 years, and we are committed to enhance our protection and capability. We recently opened a new office in Pretoria and 33 new colleagues have so far joined our already established team.
We have also continued to adapt the support we provide to members during this time to reflect changing needs and we will continue to do so.
Members can also be fully reassured that MPS’s financial position remains strong and resilient. Our mutual fund has over R39 billion of net assets available to members. This, along with our member-first values and discretionary nature, allows us to respond quickly to the needs of members. For example, we returned R135 million in subscription relief payments to South African members who saw their incomes reduce due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Where now from here
As the recent article highlighted, the Prudential Authority (PA) and Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) are conducting a broad supervisory review of the entire medical malpractice market in South Africa.
They have been engaging with multiple providers of indemnity and insurance. As the leading provider of professional indemnity in South Africa, we will continue to engage positively with them and contribute our knowledge to ensure that members’ needs remain at the forefront.
We will also remain undeterred by aspersions from competitors in the media or elsewhere. The journalist who wrote the original article himself queried whether the claims made by competitors were “simply professional jealousy”, which we’ll leave readers to assess for themselves.
MPS is proud of the high level of protection we have been offering in South Africa for over 60 years and we are committed to building on this for years to come.
SEE ALSO FROM THE MEDICALBRIEF ARCHIVES