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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 3279

Mr Bennett asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

(1)   Do some doctors enforce cash payment of their fees by patients prior to consenting to a consultation.

(2)   If so, has this practice increased subsequent to fee increases.

(3)   Can he say whether this practice could be adverse to the health of prospective patients who delay attending a doctor until such time as they have sufficient cash available.

(4)   If so, will he endeavour to confer with the medical profession to ensure that this situation does not arise.

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

(1)   My attention has been drawn to the practice adopted by some doctors of requiring cash payment of their fees by patients prior to a consultation. I am not aware, however, of the extent to which this practice is enforced on patients.

(2)   This information is not available to my Department.

(3)   I am sure that such a practice of requiring payment prior to consultation could have a detrimental effect on patients. I am most concerned when cases of this kind occur in low income areas and also in outer suburbs where there is no public hospital within reasonable distance of the patient's home. Patients without ready access to public hospital facilities or who are facing financial difficulty are clearly being discriminated against on the basis of income rather than on the basis of their medical need.

(4)   I have asked the Department to take this matter up with the Australian Medical Association and I will advise the honourable member of the outcome.

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