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Tuesday, 24 September 1974
Page: 1292

Senator BROWN (VICTORIA) - I direct my question to the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation. Does the repatriation system place undue emphasis on in-patient treatment in its hospitals? Is the Minister aware that the current trend is towards care of patients in their own homes, wherever possible? Will he undertake to examine the situation with a view to changing the present imbalance in the repatriation system towards in-patient treatment?

Senator WHEELDON - I think the allegation has been made that the repatriation medical services do place this undue emphasis on in-patient treatment in hospitals, but I do not believe that this is in fact so. The system does stress treatment within the homes of people who are in need of medical attention and every possible effort is made by the officers of the Repatriation Commission to see that they are so treated. In fact, patients are admitted to the repatriation hospitals only when there is an acute need for them to be treated in hospital. It is curious that sometimes both complaints are being made at the same time. Some people say that there is too much emphasis on treatment in the hospitals and others say that not enough people are being admitted to the hospitals.

The fact of the matter is that what the Department is endeavouring to do is, as far as possible, to treat people within the home and when an acute situation arises to admit them to the hospitals. The Department does provide services of domiciliary care, such as physiotherapy, home nursing, meals on wheels and other facilities, and there are a number of aids which are provided through the repatriation system to repatriation beneficiaries. These include special eating utensils, bath seats and other equipment of this nature. In short, the answer to the honourable senator's question is that we believe we are not placing any undue emphasis on in-patient treatment within hospitals and that everything that can possibly be done is being done to see that the patients are being treated within their homes.

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