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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 3416

Dr Klugman asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   How many medical practitioners in each (a) State and (b) Territory of the Commonwealth have been accepted as (i) specialists and (ii) physicians for the purpose of medical benefit refunds under the National Health Act

(2)   How many of the (a) specialists and (b) physicians so accepted practise also as general practitioners. <3) What proportion of accounts rendered by medical practitioners in this dual classification are rendered at the (a) specialist and (b) general practitioner rate.

(4)   If the information sought in parts (2) and (3) is not available to the Department of Health, will the Minister take urgent action to obtain it.

Dr Forbes - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   The number of medical practitioners recognised as specialists and consultant physicians for the purposes of the National Health Act as at 31st December 1971 is as follows:


(2)   (a) The National Health Act provides for the recognition of specialists solely for the purposes of payment for referred patients of higher rates of benefits. The Act provides that recognition shall be determined having regard to a medical practitioner's 'qualifications, experience and standing in the medical profession and the nature of his practice'. The question of whether a medical practitioner is practising full-time or part-time in his speciality is not an essential factor in the consideration of whether or not he is granted recognition as a specialist.

Furthermore, the Act provides for the automatic recognition of those medical practitioners registered as specialists under a law of a State. The criteria adopted by the State authorities for the registration of specialists vary and, as is the case with the Commonwealth, part-time or full-time practise in a particular speciality is not an essential factor in the registration.

Accordingly, information as to the number of recognised specialists who also practise as general practitioners is not available.

(b)   The position in regard to consultant physicians differs from that of specialist in that only the National Health Act provides for the recognition of medical practitioners as consultant physicians and recognition is granted on the basis of exclusive engagement in the practise of a speciality of internal medicine. The number of medical practitioners recognised as consultant physicians is set out in '(1) (a) (ii) and (1) (b) (ii) above. (3 This information is not available.

(4)   No. In view of (2) above it is not practical to obtain this information.

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