Kerryn Lyndel Phelps is an Australian medical practitioner and public commentator. She is Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health at the University of Sydney. She gained a national profile from regular appearances on television, radio and print media as an advisor on medical topics.
In 2000, she was elected Federal President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), becoming the first woman to head the organisation, serving the maximum term of three years. During this time, Phelps focused attentions on important issues in the health system, highlighting the medical indemnity crisis and working with State and Federal Governments for a solution. Other implementations included establishing an advisory committee on Indigenous health, and encouraging discussion of the role of the health system in response to bioterrorism.
Phelps is particularly interested in integrative medicine, public health, and human rights issues. She travels regularly to speak with health professionals and the general public on health and well-being, as well as leadership and strategy for professional organisations. Ironically, during her tenure as AMA president she was one of the most outspoken critics against integrative medicine.
At the height of her media career, she was outed as a lesbian. She subsequently campaigned for and was elected to the presidency of the AMA. She became the first woman to hold that position. Her time as AMA president was tumultuous. She famously threatened to sue the Health Minister at the time, Michael Wooldridge, after he insulted her for not having specialist qualifications, to which she replied that general practice was a legitimate specialty. The Minister publicly apologised.
She is credited with finding a solution to the medical indemnity crisis in Australia which was threatening medical practice, particularly obstetrics and neurosurgery, because of escalating medical malpractice claims. She also raised awareness of issues such as Aboriginal health problems, the medical workforce shortage, environmental health, bioterrorism and complementary medicine.
Phelps is in a long-term relationship with Jackie Stricker, a former Primary School Teacher. Phelps and Stricker married in a religious ceremony in New York in January 1998. Australian law does not recognize same-sex marriages. From her first marriage she has a daughter, Jaime and a son, Carl.
- She is the elder sibling of actor Peter Phelps.
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