The 1984 Doctor’s Dispute left an indelible mark on Australian society and in particular on the psyche of health care decision makers at all levels.

Unlike elsewhere, Australian doctors had demonstrated that they were not prepared to be walked over and lose their ability to treat patients to the highest standards of medical care. The social contract was worth something and it was worth fighting for.

As the then Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science, Ralph Dahrendorf wrote in March 1984, what happens to professions is a litmus test of a free society. Many of those who participated in the dispute shared this conviction.

Since then the private healthcare sector has grown substantially while the public sector has in many cases succumbed to the blights of over-promising but often under-delivering particularly to the chronically ill, the mentally ill and the electively ill. Sadly many doctors are being discouraged and marginalised in a system that no longer values them

This Review Analyses the events of that time and their enduring social / professional impacts.