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Tuesday, 17 March 1987
Page: 976

(Question No. 4786)

Mr Porter asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 17 October 1986:

What initiatives are being undertaken by his Department to encourage the use of day surgery rather than overnight admission to a hospital.

Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

Studies in the United States have shown that up to 40 per cent of surgical procedures can be carried out on a day-admission basis giving greater convenience for the patient, lower costs for hospitals and cheaper rates for insurers.

The first incentive offered by any Commonwealth Government to encourage day surgery was included in the September 1985 health insurance arrangements which introduced an $80 per day private fund basic table benefit for day surgery.

This benefit was increased to $90 per day (minimum) as from 1 November 1986. Also, from that date, basic table cover for prostheses implanted during surgical procedures carried out in approved free-standing day surgeries was introduced. Previously, such benefits applied only to day surgery procedures carried out in hospitals.

In addition, private health funds are being encouraged to make greater use of supplementary benefits tables to promote more services on a day only basis in private hospitals and free-standing facilities.

Where appropriate State/Territory legislation is not in place, free-standing day surgeries require Commonwealth approval in order for basic table benefits to be paid. I have utilised my discretionary powers under the National Health Act to approve two facilities in New South Wales following advice from the NSW Minister for Health. I would be prepared to likewise approve facilities in other States/Territories following appropriate advice from the relevant Minister for Health.

There are now six free-standing day surgeries approved for day surgery benefits. All private hospitals are able to provide day surgery.