Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1770 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
gymnasium, hydrotherapy and the community rehabilitation program. The disabled people we are talking about are not necessarily the long-term disabled we normally think of when we use that term, but people who have a disability requiring rehabilitation. Sometimes that is long term, of course.
Following negotiations, the hospital felt the arrangements suggested by ACTION were not functionally relevant to its service requirements. The only item with continued relevance is the charter of buses for outings. That need will continue while investigation of alternative systems occurs. ACTION has accepted that its proposed cost structure is prohibitive and agreed to the cessation of arrangements from 2 October 1998. The hospital has yet to confirm this in writing.
Individual patients may have concerns in relation to some of these changes. To minimise these concerns, a letter will be provided to each patient informing them of a review of treatment and transportation needs which will occur over the next month. The review will reassess the clinical purpose for the person's attendance, review the care plan options and determine the appropriate kind of transport; that is, is it appropriate that there be a standard ACTION bus service or a taxi service for those people who will continue to use hospital-based services? In other words, we will focus our attention on the individual clients and how we can deal with the individual clients. The review process will be completed by the end of September this year.
The Canberra Hospital will continue to meet the costs of people who will require taxi transportation. The ongoing need for taxi transportation will be regularly reassessed. All patients using standard bus services - this comes to the question you have asked today - will be required to meet their own costs, as will all other outpatients attending services. The number of people affected is estimated to be about 30. The current contract costs just over $300,000 per annum. The new system will cost in the range of $20,000 to $50,000 per annum. An actual estimate of course can be calculated only after the review. That is why they are broad figures. That substantial saving to the hospital of some quarter of a million dollars is a quarter of million dollars in health care money that can be applied in other ways for people's health.
It is important to clarify what we are talking about here. There are really four groups of outpatients who access special transport arrangements. The first comprises totally wheelchair-dependent people who cannot even transfer themselves out of their chair. The second category comprises wheelchair-dependent people who can transfer themselves out of their chair. In the third category are dependent walkers, those who are dependent on walking frames, walking sticks and so forth. Each of those three categories will be entitled to support in the form of a taxi service. Sometimes that taxi service will be a conventional taxi; sometimes it will be one of the taxis that you see around that are for people with disabilities and that have a driver specially trained to deal with people under those circumstances.
In the fourth category of people who come to the hospital are the independent walkers, people whose clinical assessment has determined that they can walk from their home to public transport and from public transport to the hospital. It is really only the people in this final category who are going to be significantly affected by the changes. It is those people who will be expected to deal with the public transport. They include people who