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Wednesday, 24 November 1965

Mr CLEAVER (SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question, which is supplementary to that just asked, is also addressed to the Minister for Health. Were speeches made by honorable members, during the Minister's absence overseas, about the inadequacy of the payment of £1 per patient per day under the National Health Act, referred to him? Is there a constant review of this matter going on within the Department of Health? Would the Minister give particular attention to the possibility of a differentiation between charitable bodies and church hospitals caring for the incurably ill, which desperately need a contribution higher than the £1 per patient per day, possibly even more than applies to patients in public or general hospitals?

Mr SWARTZ - The speech made by the honorable member for Swan during the debate on the departmental estimates was certainly referred to me along with the speeches of other honorable members made at that time. The Minister for Social Services ensured that this was done on my return. The position is that the subsidy, or the Commonwealth benefit, as it is technically termed, is not designed to cover the full cost of hospitalisation or the full cost of nursing services in a nursing home. The amount paid is meant to be a supplement under the national health scheme. That is basic to the scheme. Any consideration of an increase in any of these benefits is a matter of Government policy, and the only answer I can give at this stage is that the matter will be considered at the appropriate time.

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