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Thursday, 5 August 1920

Mr LAVELLE (Calare) .- Honorable members will probably recall that, last Friday week, I endeavoured to ventilate a grievance in this Chamber regarding the non-delivery of mails to the hospital in Wellington, New South Wales. Upon that occasion, an exhibition of Christian charity was given by the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden), who called attention to the state of the House at a time when numbers of honorable members had just departed in order to catch their trains, the result being that the House was counted out, and I was unable to place my complaint before the Minister concerned. However, I now avail myself of the opportunity to place the following facts before the PostmasterGeneral: - The Wellington district hospital is situated just outside of the postal boundary, although it is within the municipal boundary. For the reason that the hospital is not inside the postal bounds, the Department refuses to deliver mails thereto. The consequence is that when the night nurse comes off duty at 7 a.m. she has to walk down to the post-office in the town, collect the hospital mails, and carry them back to that institution, so that it is often 11 a.m. before she can retire.

Mr Bowden - Cannot some arrangement be made whereby the mails shall be delivered at some point on the postal boundary ?

Mr LAVELLE - This is a case where an exception might well be made to the general rule. If there is one section of the community deserving of sympathetic consideration, it is the nursing staffs of our hospitals. The nurses work exceptionally long hours. I do not think any honorable member would advocate an extension of their hours on duty, or would favour the maintenance of their present twelve-hour shifts, if those periods could be reduced. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that after a nurse has completed twelve hours on night duty, she should be required to undertake a walk in order to collect mails, and take them back to the hospital.

Air. Bowden. - How far is the hospital outside the postal boundary?

Mr LAVELLE - About 600 yards. In an opposite direction from the hospital, mails are delivered by the Postal Department to Chinese and others, who, although, they are within the postal boundary, are actually further from the post-office itself than is the hospital. This position is aggravated by the fact that to deliver mails to these Chinese and other residents, a road has to be traversed which is at any time bad, and in winter is almost impassable, whereas the road leading to the hospital is an excellent gravel construction practically to the doors of the institution. Altogether, I emphasize that this is a case where an exception should be made to the general practice of the Post and Telegraph Department. There are several other hospitals in New South Wales to which practically the same facts are applicable. Honorable members know ' that it has been the practice, wherever possible, to build hospitals at a reasonable distance from the centre of a town. This hospital is in a very nice situation, but simply because it is outside the postal area the mails cannot be delivered to it. It is time that the Department made an exception in this case. If it did so it would give satisfaction to everybody, and would be put to no additional expense. The staff at the hospital numbers ten, including the matron and a domestic staff of four, and there is a daily average of twenty patients. The case warrants further investigation by the Department, which, I hope, will decide to deliver the mails at the hospital.

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