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Wednesday, 26 May 1915


Dr CARTY SALMON (Grampians) . - I desire to discuss the responsibility for the position of affairs at the Broadmeadows Camp. It has been urged by one honorable member that the medical staff is responsible for a certain number of cases of illness which it is alleged' have been followed to a remarkable degree by death. The medical staff had nothing whatever to do with the selection of the camp, and have very little to do with the routine arrangements of the camp. We were told that there were 150 cases of illness there at one time. I Jo not know whether the present time is meant.


Mr Jensen - I have the latest figures here. There are sixty-four cases at the base hospitals in and around Melbourne, which have been sent away from the camp; twenty of those are accident cases.


Dr CARTY SALMON - I have also the particulars regarding the men actually ill in camp at the present moment. The policy adopted by the medical staff has been this: When a man falls sick he is not paraded at 6.30 in the morning in the rain, and compelled to wait there until the medical officer comes to examine him. He is attended to by those who are responsible for the platoon or company to which he belongs. He is brought into the hospital tent at the most convenient time to him and to those who bring him. A sick parade at 6.30 a.m. is an almost unheard of thing at this time of the year. No case which shows complications is allowed to remain in the camp. Directly any complication presents itself the man is at once transferred to the base hospital at St. Kilda-road, where he has the very best attention and trained female nurses. There are only fourteen cases of sickness in camp at the present time. Six of them are simple cases of measles, all doing well, and the other eight are simple colds, some of them of an influenzic character. These are facts. They are not based on letters sent from hysterical relatives, or those who desire to have a tilt at the Army Medical Service. That is the actual position at Broadmeadows at the present moment, and those fourteen cases are under the care of sixteen legally qualified medical practitioners. What warrant is there, then, for making these alarming statements with regard to the treatment to which the troops are subjected? All the cases were visited to-day by the -Principal Medical Officer, and they are all comfortable and in a thoroughly satisfactory condition.


Mr Fenton - It is to be hoped that the outrageous statements made will be censored, and not allowed to go forth to the public as facts.


Dr CARTY SALMON - I hope if they do go forward my statements will go forward also, made as they are with the full knowledge of the responsibility of my position in the House, and in the Army Medical Service. We heard of two sentries being found dead at their posts, or rather that one was found dead at his post, and another in an outhouse clutching his rifle. I have watched very carefully the reports regarding the camp, especially with respect to the medical side. I have never heard of inquests being held into the causes of the death of two men at the camp. Honorable members will recognise that it would be quite impossible for a medical officer to give a certificate of death in the case of a sentry found dead at his post. A proper inquiry would have to be conducted into the circumstances surrounding his death. Consequently I leave it to honorable members to judge how much truth there can possibly be in the statement to which I refer. We were also told that there had been twenty deaths in fourteen days. As a matter of fact, there has been only one death during that period. We cannot gather together 4,000 or 5,000 men at any place without some of them proving the victims of accident or of disease.


Mr Fenton - Are there more accidents and deaths at Broadmeadows than there are at similar camps in other places ^


Dr CARTY SALMON - I do not think so. A great deal has also been said in regard to the necessity for providing female nurses at the Broadmeadows hospital. I wish to point out that a great number of the male attendants there are members of the Army Medical Corps - medical students in their first, second, and third years. Surely it cannot be argued that they are incapable of looking after men who are suffering from. measles or from influenza colds. In addition to these medical students, a number of men were taken from the Melbourne Hospital and drafted into the Army Medical Corps. That corps also includes men who have risen to the rank of sergeant, many of whom are chemists by profession, and who have had plenty of experience in other military camps. It has been suggested that female nurses should be sent to Broadmeadows to attend the sick. It is an admitted fact that female nurses are far better than male nurses, but anybody m who has had experience of public institutions will recognise how impossible it is to employ female nurses without providing them with proper accommodation. What accommodation could be provided for them at Broadmeadows? Of course it may be urged that they could be taken to and from the camp - that they could get their recreation outside. But who would subject them to the fatigue of travelling to and from Broadmeadows, whilst expecting them to efficiently attend to their duties there ? It is hardly possible that their services could be utilized under present conditions. When we recollect that for a considerable time every case that has assumed anything like a serious complexion has been immediately transferred to the base hospital, where patients receive the most up-to-date nursing and the most skilled medical attention, it will be admitted that tho authorities have not been lacking in a realization of their duty. I am sorry that I have again had occasion to address the Committee upon this question. Previously I spoke of a danger that I felt was imminent, but I did not suggest that we had to deal with anything like the serious cases to which reference has so frequently been made to-day - cases which have been brought forward by honorable members upon mere hearsay, which is evidence of a character that one should hesitate to accept when ventilating this question in a deliberative assembly.







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