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Wednesday, 17 November 1976

Mr HUNT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Health) - I am aware of the reports that some doctors in some country centres- the emphasis is on 'some'- are providing limited honorary service to Medibank patients pending the resolution of a dispute which has occurred between the New South Wales Health Commission and the Austraiian Medical Association in New South Wales. As I said a week or so ago, I deplore the fact that some doctors in New South Wales are behaving in this way. I recognise that a difference of opinion exists between the New South Wales Health Commission and the doctors concerned. This problem is not occurring in all country centres but certainly it is occurring in isolated country towns. Where it is occurring I appeal to doctors and to all concerned to try to resolve a situation that is not in the best interests of the public or of the medical profession.

I have been in touch with the Minister for Health of New South Wales and have offered him any help that I can give to try to resolve what I regard to be a most unfortunate set of circumstances. Officers of my Department have been in touch with the New South Wales Health Commission to try to get a complete briefing on this situation so that we may be in a position to give the assistance that may be necessary. It is surely time that the minority of doctors concerned recognise that the modifications that we have made to Medibank do ensure viable private medical practice in Australia. Because of that I expect the minority of doctors concerned in the country areas of New South Wales to do the right and proper thing by those people who choose to stay with Medibank Standard and to pay their Vh per cent levy, and particularly the pensioners who have a right to hospital and medical treatment free of any cost to them.

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