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The Mayor (Mr H. Holland) last evening received the following telegram from the Hon. G. W. Russell, Minister of Public Health:—

"With regard to the resolution of the British Medical Association, Christchurch, and criticisms thereupon, I would point out to you that the epidemic entailed huge expenditure, amounting approximately to between £200,000 and £250,000, spread over the entire Dominion. The handling of these accounts has been an enormous work, placed upon a staff depleted by the • epidemic. Early in the year instructions were sent to all hospital boards to forward all epidemic accounts by January 31. Down to March 31, no accounts had been received from five hospital districts. The work of dealing with doctors' accounts has been largely interfered with by the fact that the medical side of the Department had for several weeks to concentrate its attention on the epidemic Royal Commission. I do not think the delay which has taken place in settling accounts of medical practitioners in Christchurch greatly exceeds the average payment of Government Department accounts, notwithstanding the facts stated, whilst I imagine there are many medical practitioners who have accounts on their books much longer in time than the four or five months since the epidemic started. Another difficulty has been that while the Dunedin doctors forwarded a claim under the block system at five guineas per day, a number of accounts have been received from Christchurch medical men at ten guineas per day. The question as to what would be a fair adjustment between these two sums has required most careful consideration, and a settlement of the point was only come to a few days ago, when it was determined that seven guineas would be a fair thing for medical men who devoted their whole time to the block system. It is not alleged that this would be adequate payment in all cases, but I feel sure that the medical profession as a whole is animated .by too high ideals to make the existence of an epidemic the means of extracting the last pound possible out of the people of* the country. Instructions have been given for immediate payment of all doctors' accounts on the lines stated, and an officer of the Department is now in Christchurch for the purpose of settling up accounts other than those of medical men. On this question I might say that considerable sums have been saved to the Government by discounts on charges made. In three districts in the North Island, discounts amounting approximately to £1750 were obtained. I think this explanation will satisfy you and every other reasonable person that, considering the huge nature of the epidemic, covering as it did, the whole Dominion, and expenditure ' arising therefrom, payable to thousands- of people, there has been a not unreasonable delay in the payment of accounts." •

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Bibliographic details

PAYING DOCTORS' FEES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9583, 10 April 1919

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PAYING DOCTORS' FEES. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9583, 10 April 1919