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Wednesday, 24 November 1965

Mr SWARTZ - The classification of a patient in a hospital is related not only to the period for which he is in hospital but also to the classification of the hospital itself and the facilities provided by it. Hospitals are normally registered as such by the State authorities and care for individual patients for only relatively brief periods. Indeed, I think that the average period of hospitalisation throughout Australia is only about eight or nine days. A hospital receives from the Commonwealth Government a subsidy where special account benefit is involved or, under the pensioner medical service, a benefit of 36s. a day. In a case of long term, chronic illness we direct the attention of the hospital to the fact and remind it that long term nursing cases should not be classified as hospital cases. Quite a few hospitals overcome this problem by providing nursing home facilities within the one hospital complex. As an example I mention the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. Most of the patients there are classified as hospital patients, but separate wards and facilities are provided for nursing home patients. This is the sort of system that we envisage as being most satisfactory where long term, chronic cases are being treated. When hospital treatment of a terminal case extends beyond what is considered to be a reasonable period the full hospital benefit is paid in any event without question. A problem arises only in long term nursing cases. This problem can be solved by having within the one complex both hospital and nursing home facilities.

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