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Wednesday, 30 August 1972
Page: 522

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health whether it is a fact that doctors in 5 country areas of New South Wales are refusing to work under the pensioner medical scheme and carry out government medical officer services. Has the Minister seen a statement attributed to the New South Wales DirectorGeneral of Health that the doctors have achieved medical monopolies in the 5 centres by a loose federation or a more structured arrangement of group practices and that they are also refusing to perform Commonwealth medical duties of examining repatriation patients and applicants for pensions? Can the Minister say which areas of New South Wales are affected by the decision of these medical practitioners? What action is being taken by the Commonwealth Department of Health to ensure that pensioners, repatriation patients and people who are members of family health insurance schemes are not being penalised by this selfish attitude on the part of such medical practitioners?

Senator GREENWOOD - I must say that 1 am unaware of any of the matters to which the honourable senator has referred. I suggest that he put his question on the notice paper so that the Minister for Health or, until he returns, the Acting Minister for Health, can examine the matters and give the honourable senator a proper answer. I know from experience during the short time when I was Minister for Health that this situation arose in a New South Wales country area. It was resolved by processes of consultation. I think that if what is alleged is occurring it is reprehensible. It is a matter of which the professional organisations of the doctors themselves should take note, because I think it would be quite wrong for medical practitioners not to make their services available to pensioners in accordance with the terms of the pensioner medical service.

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