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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 820


Mr NEWMAN(10.54) —I would like to add to what my colleague the honourable member the Warringah (Mr MacKellar) has just said about the relationship between doctors. In the course of checking on the effect of this scheme on general practitioners in my own electorate, one of the things that has come through very clearly to me is that many genuine doctors-not ones that were rubbished before by the Government when this particular point was made in the general debate-are very concerned about what will happen in the relationship between themselves, their staff and their patients. They are extremely worried about the administration that centralised bureaucracy will impose upon their practice. At present it takes eight weeks for a bulk bill payment to be made. It is worse if a small mistake is made on the documents that are required because then it can take six months to resolve. That means that the doctor's staff is very much concerned with the paper work and the administration and they spend a great deal of time ensuring it is accurate and meeting the other requirements of the Department. The Minister for Health (Dr Blewett), when this was mentioned briefly, did give an assurance that the concern was not warranted. But I would like him to spell out in more detail why it is not warranted. Just to summarise, the point is that the staff which one would expect to help patients coming to a surgery do not have the time to do so as they are preoccupied with the administration of the system. That means that the relationship usually between staff and patients is lost. Could the Minister explain that matter to me?