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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3138

Senator COLEMAN —My question to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs relates to the announcement he made earlier this year of a review of the repatriation hospital system. I ask: Because of the wide public interest in this area can the Minister advise what progress has been made with this review?

Senator GIETZELT —It is true that about two months ago I announced the establishment of an inquiry headed by Dr Ian Brand into the repatriation hospital system. That arose as a result of my inspection of repatriation hospitals during 1983. The inspection was not for the purpose of conducting any sort of inquiry other than one to establish whether the hospitals were capable of fulfilling a proper function in respect of the medical care of veterans who rely substantially on that system for their health care arrangements. Dr Brand who heads the inquiry has written to 250 organisations and individuals. A special questionnaire has been prepared for patients to answer on a confidential basis. In that questionnaire they may indicate to the inquiry their views on what they consider to be deficiencies or otherwise in respect of the treatment available to them.

Already we have established beyond any doubt that there is a deficiency in specialised equipment within the repatriation hospital system. In other words, in comparison with our State hospital systems there is much to be desired. Consequently we will await the result of that inquiry with a great deal of interest. I add that if any person who has an interest in the repatriation system has a view on this matter then the inquiry is quite happy to receive any such submission which will be treated on either a public or confidential basis.