A health reporter wrote an article about a young man who had his face wired together following a road accident on the front page of The Canberra Times on this day 33 years ago.
The man was a victim of the dispute between the ACT Health Authority and the Canberra branch of the Australian Medical Association over payment for treating Medicare patients in public hospitals.
He was only one of the thousands of Canberrans without private insurance on the waiting list for elective surgery at the three public hospitals. They had waited for several months and their wait grew longer with every hiccup in the negotiations over specialists' contract with the ACT Health Authority for their care.
Elective surgery, anything that was not an emergency, for Medicare patients had been suspended when the visiting medical specialists' contracts expired earlier in the year.
The Health Care Consumers group's secretary, Ms Margaret Hutson, said the stress reflected in all kinds of areas.
"It is stressful enough when you have a health problem. It is doubly stressful when you have a health problem that nobody will help you with," she said.
People felt victimised because they had no way of resolving the situation.