Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 521 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

I would like to put some problems onto his agenda. The first one is not a problem that he created for himself; but I would just like him to take it into account and deal with the matter as quickly as he can. This is not a comprehensive list of things; but there are just a couple of things I would like to highlight for his interest. The first is the issue of the Health Complaints Unit and the time it takes to finalise cases. That is a matter of resources, I feel. Of course, the unit has been loaded with additional duties. It has had some extra money, but a lot of additional work in relation to its community service responsibilities.

A good example of this is the case raised by a Mr Wood over the death of his daughter-in-law. A complaint was raised with the Medical Board in 1994. In late 1996, it was referred to the Health Complaints Commissioner. In February 1997, it was raised by Mr Wood with the Canberra Times, with Mr Moore and with me. In response, the Chief Minister promised that it would be dealt with as a priority. Late last year, the then Minister for Health reported to the Assembly that the Medical Board would be dealing with the issue the next month, October. In relation to the commissioner's inquiries, the Minister advised:

... he anticipates providing me with a final report early in 1998. Members should appreciate that the commissioner is currently examining 14 cases where health services were provided by the doctor in question. This has necessitated a careful, lengthy inquiry.

I would ask Mr Moore to take this matter up as a priority and report back to the Assembly. As I say, it is not a matter of his doing; it is a matter that he has inherited. I think it has gone on for far too long. I am sure that he will agree.

My second issue relates to the fact that the residents of Canberra are made to pay again and again for the most expensive health services in the country. Not only are our visiting medical officers more expensive, but our private services also are more expensive. We have a very low rate of bulk-billing. Yesterday, my office was contacted by a concerned resident whose wife was referred for some sort of a scan. The company to perform the scan advised his wife that she would have to pay $600 up front before the scan would be performed. Further, she was told that, of the $600 charged, she would be reimbursed only $300 by her health insurance company.

Clearly, this type of policy makes high-quality health care a privilege of the rich, with those less fortunate in the community, who are also more likely to need health care, facing barriers to care. This story also is related in the knowledge that our public hospital levies charges and places restrictions on services such as scans in spite of its charter to provide health care services for all; that is, it encourages people to go to the private sector. That is consistent with the Government's ideology, I know. I trust that Mr Moore will bring some more sense back into the delivery of these sorts of services.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .