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Wednesday, 8 December 1976

Mr Fry asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   Has the Melba Health Centre only 3 doctors at present, when the complement in January 1 976 was 6.

(2)   Is it a fact that (a) this Centre serves a population of over 17 000, (b) people from the area who have been on the books of the Centre since its inception are sometimes unable to be treated because of the workload, and are referred to the Canberra Hospital, 18 kilometres away, or to private practitioners, (c) no new health centre will be completed in this area until 1978, by which time the population in the area is expected to be in excess of 25 000 and (d) the pharmacy at the Centre is unable to play its full role due to the pressure of work and is unable to keep personal records of patients, as they have no clerical assistance.

(3)   Is it also a fact that when a private pharmacy opened in Kambah the pharmacy at the Kambah Village Health Centre was closed; if so, as there is now a private pharmacy at Charnwood is it the intention of the Health Commission to close the Melba Health Centre pharmacy.

(4)   Is it also a fact that salaries of medical practitioners have not been updated during 1976, other than through indexation, whilst private practitioners have received substantial increases in fees.

Mr Hunt -The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(   1 ) The Melba Health Centre has four doctors at present. Two doctors have resigned since January 1976 and are private practitioners in the area.

(2)   (a) The population of the area (approximately 17 500) is served by the Melba Health Centre and private practitioners.

(b)   Patients are referred to the Canberra Hospital only when, in cases of emergency, the centre is unable to provide an immediate appointment.

(c)   A major study is under way in the Capital Territory Health Commission concerning the timing and siting of health centres in Canberra. A report is expected to be considered by the Commission shortly and the Commission plans made public soon after.

(d)   Pharmacists at the Centre agreed that because all patient information was entered on the Health Centre record separate records were not needed in the pharmacy.

(3)   Initially the closure of the pharmacy in the Village Health Centre was caused by the Commission's inability to staff the pharmacy during a period of absence, due to illness, of the salaried pharmacist However, pharmaceutical services were available for Health Centre patients from a newly opened private pharmacy adjacent to the health centre. Because community needs were being adequately catered for by the private pharmacist it was decided to return the salaried pharmacist to Woden Valley Hospital when he resumed duty. The Commission has no plans to close the pharmacy at Melba Health Centre.

(4)   Salaries paid to community medical practitioners are currently under review.

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