Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 808

Mr NEWMAN(9.26) —I would like to take up this question of the 85 per cent arrangement. The point made by a number of speakers on this side of the chamber this afternoon and this evening is that this is an open invitation to doctors who are that way inclined to overservice. The problem is that many doctors now, even those who have very large bulk billing practices, will see this as a reduction in their fees. If one accepts the proposition, which I think is a fair proposition, one would have to agree that market forces will force most doctors to bulk bill in the medium term. Some doctors faced with a reduction of between 5 per cent and 15 per cent in their incomes will overservice. I really am interested to know what new measures there will be to check overservicing.

I think honourable members will appreciate that there are many ways in which a doctor can quite legitimately increase the amount of consultation he engages in. For example, in the case of a common problem in an ear, something to which children are prone, a general practitioner, having had one consultation, would probably take a look at the child and say to the mother: 'If this discharge from the ear continues, give me a ring and I will see the child again'. In that way he would probably be acting fairly reasonably. But now, trying to make up this gap in income, he will probably say to the mother: 'That discharge does not look too good. You had better come back next week'. There is no way in which computers or an extra $8m of investment in checking doctors' overservicing will pick that up. The point I make is a very important point: What will the Government do to check on this incentive to overservice?