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Wednesday, 13 May 1970

Mr REYNOLDS (Barton) - In clause 23 reference is made in several places to a professional service. I tried to raise this matter earlier in the debate. At this stage 1 ask the Minister to clarify the issue for me. Clause 8 defines 'professional service' as:

(a)   A medical service that is rendered by, or on behalf of, a medical practitioner; . . .

I am wondering how far that can be taken. I am mindful of all those people who go along to, say, a Macquarie Street, Sydney specialist who, after examination, states that the patient has to have physiotherapy. 1 know of such cases where a person has been referred to a quite eminent physiotherapist located in Macquarie Street, and subsequently has made a claim for the physiotherapy services provided. The fund organisation stated that in the circumstances no payment could be made. Apparently the benefits could be paid only if the medical specialist himself, or someone under his immediate direction - presumably within his own surgery - had carried out the phys:0.therapy treatment. But mindful of the fact that he was not nearly as capable of carrying out the physiotherapy as the person who specialised in that field he directed the person to go to the physiotherapist, and as I indicated, the subsequent application for benefit payment was refused. I am thinking also of the same sort of thing and the same kind of referral that might be made by a medical specialist to, say, a speech therapist or any one of a number of people who provide what we term ancillary medical services. I ask the Minister to indicate to me at this stage the limits of that definition of professional service to which T referred?

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