N.Z. HEALTH PLAN
Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 94, 21 April 1945, Page 8
N.Z. HEALTH PLAN
LESSONS FOR AUSTRALIA
MELBOURNE, April 20. New Zealand's State medical service has its lessons for Australia, which is now destined for some form of such a service, writes Douglas Brass in the Melbourne "Herald." Mr. Brass, a former New Zealand journalist who is now one of Australia's best-known overseas correspondents, is visiting the Dominion. "The main lesson is that when a State medical service is introduced the British Medical Association in Australia must not behave as it did in New Zealand," says Mr. Brass. "It must work with the Government, even under duress. "Most New Zealanders like their State medical service," he adds. "More and more doctors are liking it, and some of them are doing very well out of it, since it means guaranteed payments and no bad debts. "Everyone and everything has come out of the scheme pretty well—everyone and everything save the British Medical Association, and, in the view of thoughtful doctors, the status of disinterested medical science. "The 8.M.A., early in the piece broke off'diplomatic relations with the Government, stubbornly refusing to have anything to do as an organisation with a medical plan it had violently and unavailing^ resisted. Had it played ball it might easily have produced a less hasty plan, more capable of being insured against abuse "Now, with the Labour plan three years under way, it is faced with weakened loyalties among its members." WORKABLE AND SIMPLE. Mr. Brass says that the three years' trial of the fee-for-service system has shown it workable and simple but open to abuse. Though the allegations may be coloured, it is common gossip that some doctors use the guaranteed visit payment to build up fortunes "It is suggested that some doctors may conceal part of their incomes by accepting payments over and above the regulation fee. Many doctors claim that opposition to a universally available service cost the B.MA the opportunity of helping to formulate a scheme which has come-to stay Mr. Brass reports one politically anti- Government doctor as saying to him"ln spite of its faults, I have seen in the national health service a genuinely progressive effort in the public interest I deplore our lack of co-operation because without it there will be initial mistakes that will be hard to correct— and both the public and the profession will surtci*.
In Australia, Mr. Brass conclude the B.M.A. will defeat its own interests if it does not adopt a more concilia tory and co-operative attitude towards the Government's medical plans