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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




Part III of the Social Security Act 1938 provides for the operation of a variety of health (treatment) benefits. The benefits introduced, and the years from which they have operated, are as follows:

1939, Hospital Benefits. Free maintenance and treatment in all State mental hospitals. Free maintenance and treatment in any public hospital. Payment of a portion of the fees charged for treatment in a private hospital

1939, Maternity Benefits. Services of a medical practitioner during pregnancy, confinement, and puerperium.

Free treatment in any public maternity hospital, and part-payment of fees payable to private maternity hospitals.

Payment of nurse's fees if confined at home.

1941, Hospital Outpatient Benefit. Free outpatient treatment in any public hospital.

1941, Medical Benefits. This provided free general practitioner services on a capitation basis. Few practitioners agreed to supply this service.

1941, Pharmaceutical Supplies Benefit. This provides for a wide range of drugs to be supplied free on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.

1941, X-ray Diagnostic Services. These services are available free at a public hospital, and a portion of the fee of a private radiologist is payable by the Department of Health.

1941, General Medical Services. This is a general practitioner service on a fee-for-service basis. A fee of 7s. 6d. per consultation (12s. 6d. on Sundays and at night) is payable by the Department. Milage also is payable in country areas. The practitioner may claim direct on the Department, or may charge the patient in the ordinary way, the latter then claiming a refund. The practitioner may charge the patient an additional fee. General Practitioner Services in Special Areas. To meet the needs of special areas where the population is too small to support a medical practitioner, or for some other reason, the Minister may declare a special area, and engage a practitioner to supply a medical service for an inclusive annual payment.

1942, Physiotherapy Benefit. Massage treatment at a public hospital is free. A fee of 5s. from the Department is payable to a registered physiotherapist who may charge the patient an additional amount. The treatment must have been recommended by a medical practitioner.

1944, District Nursing Benefits. This provides free district nursing services if afforded by a nurse, midwife, or maternity nurse employed by the State, a hospital board, or any subsidised association.

1944, Domestic Assistance Benefits. Domestic assistance may be provided during a mother's incapacity, or in cases of hardship. The services are supplied through some approved organisation.

1945, Extension of Outpatient Benefits. Hospital boards may make payment to specialist surgeons in respect of operations for hare-lip or cleft palate at some place apart from the hospital.

1946, Laboratory Benefits. Free laboratory diagnostic services may be provided by any hospital laboratory, or by a pathologist in private practice.

1947, Extension of Outpatient Benefits. Provision has been made to pay the whole cost of contact lenses in certain deficient cases. Some types of hearing aids are provided at the cost of the Department, and a subsidy of not more than £13 is paid towards the cost of the more expensive hearing aids. The full cost and repair of artificial limbs is payable by the Department.

1947, Dental Benefits. Free dental treatment is available to hospital outpatients, and dental treatment is provided for adolescents up to the age of 16, provided they previously had enrolled with the School Dental Service.

by Francis Sydney Maclean M.B., B.CHIR., M.D.(CAMB.), M.R.C.S.(ENG.), L.R.C.P.(LOND.), formerly Director of Public Hygiene, Department of Health.