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Monday, 6 December 1993
Page: 3843

Senator BEAHAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. I refer to the minister's announcement yesterday of the sale of Hollywood Repatriation General Hospital in Perth to the Ramsay Health Care Group. How will the minister ensure that the veteran community in Western Australia will continue to receive high quality health care?

Senator FAULKNER —Yesterday I made what I believe is an historic announcement for the veteran community of Western Australia. I was able to tell them that Ramsay Health Care Pty Ltd, an Australian owned and operated company, has been selected to take over Hollywood Repatriation General Hospital early next year. This means that the future of Hollywood hospital is guaranteed. I am able to assure the veteran community of Western Australia today that its access to Hollywood is absolutely guaranteed as a condition of sale.

  The federal government will pay $500 million over the next 10 years to purchase treatment for entitled veterans and war widows which will guarantee their health care into the next century. They will continue to have access to Hollywood for its full range of excellent treatment services without having to obtain authority first from the Department of Veterans' Affairs. In fact, the new Hollywood private hospital will not only retain its existing services but also enhance them by expanding Hollywood's present links with the University of Western Australia medical school.

  The aim is to set new standards and make Hollywood the nation's leading private hospital with teaching status. Links in orthopaedic surgery, general medicine, general surgery and neurological surgery will be extended to include a number of other important areas. In addition, Ramsay Health Care plans a $20 million building and refurbishment program which will be implemented progressively. Major constructions will include a 150-bed block, an independent 40-bed psychiatric facility, four new operating theatres, and a new day surgery centre. A large medical centre, with up to 50 consulting rooms and practice suites, will be built and the outpatient clinic area will be redesigned. Ramsay has also guaranteed that it will maintain the aged and extended care department, the special psychiatric facility, the palliative care unit and the chapel.

  I am pleased to say that on the same day in February that Ramsay Health Care takes over Hollywood, Western Australia's 30,000 entitled veterans and war widows will gain access to the repatriation private patient scheme, which will provide the wider options for local treatment that they particularly need as they grow older. Under this scheme they would be able to go to Hollywood or to their local public hospital as private patients in shared accommodation without the need for their doctor to contact the Department of Veterans' Affairs. The repatriation private patients scheme will also make it easier for them to gain access to local specialists.

  I emphasise that the federal government, through the Repatriation Commission and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, will continue to be responsible for the repatriation health care of veterans and war widows.  The new health care arrangements will be closely monitored by the Western Australian treatment monitoring committee, which is made up of representatives of ex-service organisations.

  I also want to place on record the government's deep appreciation of the crucial role played by the ex-service organisations in the consultative process leading up to yesterday's announcement. Not only did they make an enormous contribution to the developing of Hollywood's role, but also they acted at all times to ensure that the interests of the veteran community came first. Through the contract with Ramsay and the introduction of the repatriation private patients scheme, I am confident that this is a very good result for all Western Australian entitled beneficiaries, the veterans and war widows.