Page 4287 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 7 December 1993

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Tuesday, 7 December 1993


MADAM SPEAKER (Ms McRae) took the chair at 2.30 pm and read the prayer.


Narrabundah Health Centre

MRS CARNELL: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Health. Is it true that the Narrabundah Health Centre is no longer accepting new patients because of budget cutbacks and the fact that a doctor has transferred to another health centre without being replaced? For how long is this situation likely to continue? How many other health centres in Canberra are not accepting new patients or are likely to be placed in this position?

MR BERRY: Madam Speaker, a doctor from Narrabundah Health Centre, on my advice, took up a position in Phillip Health Centre because the doctor from Phillip Health Centre was going on extended leave. I understand that that leave runs for a period of a combination of leave accruals and leave without pay. It is not our intention to cut back on CMPs in the community, despite Mrs Carnell's claims about the inefficiencies of the CMP program. We intend to keep our community medical practitioners operating from those health centres and we will be continuing to do that. There is no threat to CMPs in the ACT, and I have given specific instructions to ensure that that does not occur. There is a limit to the number of patients the CMPs can see from time to time. Their appointment books gets full, like everybody else's. At the end of the day, we will continue to support that community medicine practitioner group.

Mrs Carnell: Are new patients being seen?

MR BERRY: We are particularly concerned to ensure that bulk billing is promoted, and our CMPs do that. When the appointment book is full or when people go on leave, sometimes new patients cannot be seen. That is a fact of life. I do not know how many times you have rung up your GP and said, "I would like to see you today", and he has said, "I cannot, because I am too busy".

Mrs Carnell: No; new patients are not being accepted onto the books.

MR BERRY: I do not know what you are being told. If there is room on the books, new patients will be seen. If they are full up, the CMPs cannot see every person who wants to see a CMP in the ACT. It is as simple as that. They cannot see them all; there are not enough of them. You are the one that has advocated that we have fewer of them. Cut it out. You cannot have it both ways. This is more of this inane headline grabbing stuff. You go out stalking headlines at every opportunity. You cannot take more patients than the diaries will allow, and doctors do go on leave. It is as simple as that.

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