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Thursday, 21 February 1980
Page: 307

Mr Hurford asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 22 November 1 979:

(   1 ) Is it a fact that the Government is reviewing the section 34 arrangements of the Health Insurance Act relating to the provision of hospital beds in private and community hospitals for public patients.

(2)   If so, for how long has this review been taking place and when does he anticipate that a decision will be made.

(3)   Is it also a fact that a small local community hospital is not only financially advantageous when compared with a centralised public hospital, but also benefits both patients and doctors because of the accessibility of treatment.

(4)   Has his attention been drawn to a submission from the Enfield, Prospect and Walkerville Community Development Board to him and his Department which has shown a great need for the provision of extra section 34 beds in the northern areas of Adelaide.

(   5 ) If so, what is his response to this submission.

Mr MacKellar - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   Commencing in 1978, the review has been protracted because of the need for continuing discussions with the previous South Australian Government (South Australia is the only State in which section 34 approvals have been given). During November 1979, officers of my Department had further discussions with representatives of the South Australian Health Commission on this matter and I shall be taking the matter up with the new South Australian Minister of Health

(3)   I do not believe that meaningful comparisons can be drawn between, say, a metropolitan teaching hospital and a small community hospital. However, I believe that community hospitals fulfil a valuable role in the overall provision of health services, with particular benefits flowing from their size and location.

(4)   I have read the submission referred to, without necessarily drawing the same conclusion as the honourable member.

(5)   The Enfield Community Council for Social Development has been advised that its submission would be considered in the review process, and that in the meantime, it was proposed to not approve any additional section 34 accommodation.

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