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Wednesday, 5 May 1920

Mr TUDOR - They have had to shift for themselves.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - Does the honorable member say that the Department compelled' civilian patients to leave the Austin Hospital ?

Mr TUDOR - No; neither the Defence Department nor the Repatriation Department.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I ' believe that in most cases a man who feels that his plight is hopeless wishes to return home.

Mr TUDOR - Soldiers who have become tubercular by reason of war service, either abroad or in Australia, should receive the best possible treatment.

Mr Gregory - Why not take the matter out of the hands of the Defence Department, and give it to the Repatriation Department?

Mr TUDOR - I would not object to that. But consumptive civilian patients should not be turned out of a public hospital to make room for soldier patients.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

Mr TUDOR - The letter dealing with the removal of patients from the Austin Home for Incurables continues -

Patients already occupying such ward wore transferred to other wards of the hospital, some to a ward admittedly insanitary for consumptives. While recognising the soldier's claim to every consideration, I would ask if this is fair to the general public, some of whom have been a long time ininates of the Kronheimer wing? Also, it appears that applications for beds here from the public hare been held up for some time, and some patients received here as incurable have been discharged to take their chance. It will be seen that forty beds have been withdrawn from tho use of the general public, some of which are vacant at present.

I can understand half-a-dozen patients in a country district being treated in a local hospital, but" I cannot understand why in the metropolis there is any occasion for the Defence Department or the Repatriation Department to scatter patients over the various city institutions. T wish to draw particular attention to the case of one man who has been sent out of the Austin Home for Incurables. It is not simply a case of transferring from one part of an institution to another. On the 29th March last this man's father received thefollowing letter : -

I am directed to inform you that as your son Charliehas improved in health, and is, consequently, no longer in need of our care and treatment, it will be necessary that you remove him from this hospital by not later than Wednesday next, the 31st inst

Asking your immediate attention -

He was given two days in which to remove his son. The latter was then sent to the Sanatorium Branch and' Tuberculosis Bureau, 440 Lonsdale-street, and the following letter was forwarded by that institute to the medical superintendent, Melbourne Public Hospital:

The bearer, Bertie Knight, of 20 Dorcasstreet, South Melbourne, having applied for admission to a sanatorium, is, in accordance with arrangements made with the Committee, referred to you for clinical examination, and report on the prescribed form.

According to the clinical examination, this young man was suffering from " cough with profuse expectoration, night sweats, and emaciation for five years." In giving the history of the illness it says -

Now very wasted. Signs in both lungs.

The chart on the clinical report bears the words "dullness, amphoric rales, &c, and cavity " on the right lung, and " scattered rales " on the left lung. It is signed by Dr. Stewart.

Mr Riley - Was he a returned soldier?

Mr TUDOR - No; but he was turned out of the Austin Hospital to make room for a returned soldier, and I believe that what applies in Victoria also applies in New South Wales, because Mr. Kelly, formerly honorable member for Wentworth, pointed out in the House that tubercular cases were being sent from the Randwick Hospital to some other establishment. We ought to give our soldiers the best possible treatment, and if we cannot give it to them in our own hospitals we ought not to send them to institutions where it is necessary to turn out other patients in order to find room for them. . I know that the Committee of the Austin Hospital for Incurables do not take in a patient unless the case is absolutely incurable. Furthermore, it is bad for our soldiers to be placed' in an institution where there are such distressing circumstances. It would be better for the Defence Department or the Repatriation Department to establish their own homes for tubercular cases, or at least they should send them to institutions where there is room for them. They ought not to be sent into a home where other patients are obliged to vacate their bed's in order to provide room for them. In any case, I would not approve of sending them to the Austin Home for Incurables if it could be avoided. I hope that every effort will be made to fight this dread disease with which some of our returned men are infected. We have a better chance of doing so in thiscountry, where we lead the open-air life more than people in other countries do. I trust that the Minister will take notice of this case. I have availed myself of this opportunity to ventilate a matter that requires to be looked into. Even hospital committees sometimes make mistakes, and it is necessary that this matter should be investigated, in order that justice may be done, not only to the soldiers, but to the general public.

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