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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Page: 7663

Senator Chris Evans asked the Minister for Health and Ageing, upon notice, on 1 November 2002:

How many medical practitioners rendering unreferred attendances were there in each Australian postcode zone for the 12 months ending: (a) 30 June 2000; (b) 30 June 2001; and (c) 30 June 2002 (period of processing).

Senator Patterson (Minister for Health and Ageing) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

The requested Medicare statistics cannot be provided at the individual postcode level due to possible confidentiality considerations. The workload involved in identifying and suppressing or combining confidential postcodes cannot be justified.

Under subsection 130(5) of the Health Insurance Act 1973, it is possible to publish Medicare statistics, provided that such publication does not enable the identification of an individual patient or practitioner.

In a number of postcodes, there may be only a small number of medical practitioners rendering unreferred attendances, or a small number of practitioners rendering most unreferred attendances. In accordance with appropriate statistical best practices, on which the Department is guided by relevant Australian Bureau of Statistics practices, it is not appropriate to publish statistics in these circumstances. Similar considerations apply to statistics by patient enrolment region.

Separate arrangements have been put in place covering the regular provision of non-confidential bulk billing statistics by electorate, as part of the proceedings of the Community Affairs Legislation Committee.