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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 847


Mr NEWMAN(1.56 a.m.) —I would like to pick up the same provision which the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Carlton) has been referring to. One thing which I think does cause great concern is that this provision will encourage more people to go to public hospitals to get treatment. It is not just a matter of people seeking out-patient treatment with a doctor in preference to their general practitioner; it is the strains that may be caused by people also seeking out other services of the hospital, which could be physiology, physiotherapy, x-ray, speech therapy or voice therapy-a whole range of provisions which a hospital can provide.

Perhaps the one which could cause more concern is the question of pharmaceuticals. As I understand it, patients who go to a hospital for treatment from a doctor would then also be able to go to the pharmacy at the hospital and be provided with the drugs, medicines and so on prescribed for their treatment. This, of course will be very attractive to patients. It means that they will be able to avoid any cost of pharmaceuticals which at a minimum would be I think, the $4 prescribing fee that they would have to pay if they went to a normal pharmacy. So I ask the Minister for Health whether in this case he has taken into consideration the fact that there will now be a range of services used in hospitals but particularly this question of pharmaceuticals. If it is correct that people can receive their pharmaceuticals free, I would suggest to the Minister that the question of costs would loom very much in his mind.

The second issue, which is perhaps a more parochial one, is the question of the ability of hospitals to cope with any shift that may occur with people who normally go to their own doctors, going to out-patient clinics. I refer to the Launceston General Hospital. The Minister would well know that that hospital is in a state of inefficiency. It has proceeded to stage 1 and because of the way that it has been constructed it is now uneconomic. It simply does not work efficiently. There is a requirement for stage 2 to be completed. This is very much bound up in this new scheme because the Government has been approached by the State of Tasmania to resolve this issue. Unless it is resolved this is one public hospital that will not be in a position to cope with the new services that it is going to have to provide under this scheme. Those are the two points I raise with the Minister: Firstly, the matter of pharmaceuticals and secondly, the resolution of the Launceston General Hospital stage 2 construction.