UNFAIR CHARGES: Frances and John Dunn want the federal government to regulate GP consultation fees. Frances and John Dunn want the federal government to regulate GP consultation fees after they incurred what they said was an unfair charge at the Lochinvar Medical Centre.

Mrs Dunn, of Lorn, had been a patient of Dr John Goswell for almost nine years and had always received the non-smoker’s discount.

But when her husband, a smoker, took her to the surgery on July 3, the practice manager Felicity Goswell told Mrs Dunn she would no longer receive the discount because she lived with a smoker.

“We were sitting in the waiting room when Mrs Goswell came to the door of the waiting room and asked if my husband was still smoking,” Mrs Dunn said.

“He said he had given it up for three months but had started smoking again.

“[Mrs Goswell] got down on her knees and asked him: ‘Would you let me help you give up smoking please, please, please?’

“He said he had the patches and was going to give up again.”

The Mercury contacted Mrs Goswell who said she recalled the case but would not comment further.

Mrs Dunn said she questioned Mrs Goswell’s actions when she paid for the consultation, but said she was refused the discount.

“I don’t smoke and I never have,” she said.

“I’m angry because I have been penalised because I live with a smoker.”

This follows Rutherford woman Joanne Dennis’ outrage after she visited the surgery earlier this month and was charged the full consultation fee because she was a smoker.

Mrs Dunn has changed doctors and written to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission to express her concerns.

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission told the Mercury it was up to each surgery to set their own policy.

“Patients concerned about the fees could make a complaint to the commission but there was nothing they could do unless the health and safety of the patient was affected,” a spokeswoman said.

The NSW Fair Trading is powerless, as is the Department of Health and Ageing.

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