Page 3 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 12 February 1991

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year. A major publicity campaign will be launched on 18 February to inform consumers about the role of the ACT Board of Health's information and complaints unit. A display at the Royal Canberra Show in a few weeks' time will provide a wide range of information about health services, including that particular unit. The Board of Health is already considering, at my request, options for the development of complaints mechanisms. New legislation in the area of clients' rights is also being explored, with a view to providing legal recognition and protection of the rights of health consumers.

The forum's report is very welcome to the Government. It is a valuable drawing together of initiatives and progress across all States, and I think it will make a very valuable contribution towards the work that will go on in this Territory along the same lines.

Medical Specialists

MR STEVENSON: My question is to Gary Humphries, the Minister for Health. It concerns the lack of dermatology specialists in Canberra. A constituent who was diagnosed as having cancer was told that there was no dermatologist in Canberra. I believe that a private dermatologist visits Canberra twice a month, such visits being arranged by a local GP. Apparently, however, this particular dermatologist is booked out, currently, up until September. As the ACT is one of the worst places in Australia for skin cancers, my questions are as follows: Does the Minister agree that there is a lack of dermatologists in the ACT? Is there any intention to handle that problem, and, if so, when?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Stevenson for that question, because it is very apposite and probably quite timely. It is, to my knowledge, quite true that the ACT lacks any permanent dermatologist. At least, that was the case a few months ago when I last had reason to inquire about it, and I have no reason to believe that it has changed at any stage since then. I might point out that that problem is not one that extends just to dermatologists. There has been a whole series of medical specialties where the ACT has lacked a consistent or adequate presence over a period of years. A few years ago, I think, it was orthopaedic surgeons. Today, it is dermatologists and probably other things.

I have no doubt at all that that situation will continue for some time to come, unless the Government is able to take in hand the problem of attracting and retaining high quality medical, nursing and other health related staff to the ACT's public hospital system. That is the crux of the problem, and that, I should remind this place, is the reason for the Government spending $166m on the

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