Page 9 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 12 February 1991

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Hospital Charges

MR STEVENSON: My question is to the Minister for Health, Gary Humphries. It concerns a lady of mature age who is currently residing as a patient in the Royal Canberra Hospital and is having some difficulty getting a nursing home bed. The short details are as follows: She was a patient at the Goodwin Homes and suffered severe health problems and was admitted to Royal Canberra Hospital. After that it was obvious that she was not going to be able to return to Goodwin Homes, but needed a nursing home. I contacted the Minister's office in early January and, indeed, that was arranged; but because of some bureaucratic problem it fell through and since then she has been in Royal Canberra Hospital. Recently, we believe, a bill has been sent to her. Now, the questions are: Will that bill for approximately a thousand dollars be waived; and, secondly, will immediate action be taken to ensure that she does go to a nursing home as earlier promised?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I think Mr Stevenson is probably referring to the same lady whose case was reported on the front page of the Canberra Times on Saturday. Since that article appeared I have sought briefing from my ministry on that subject. I have received advice from the ministry, and I am currently examining that. I indicated, however, to a reporter yesterday, and I stand by this, that unless a very good reason is established by those briefing me as to why the Government ought not to refund - or ought to collect - the thousand-odd dollars which is owed by that lady to the Government, then I will certainly ask that that fee be waived or refunded, as the case may be.

I might indicate that I am not satisfied with the briefings I have received on this subject already today. I will be seeking further advice from the ministry and from the Board of Health on that subject, and as a result of those briefings I will be making a decision on that lady's case.

Hospital Services

MR BERRY: My question is to Mr Humphries, the Minister for Health, Education and the Arts. I refer to my letters of 11 and 16 January to you, or to Mr Duby when he was acting for you whilst you were away. Those letters concern two constituents who presented at Royal Canberra Hospital South, the principal hospital, and were forced into private hospital beds due to this Government's failure to provide adequate public hospital services. I would like to table those two letters, and I seek leave to do so.

Leave granted.

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