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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2362

Mr OLDMEADOW (HOLT, VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Is the Minister aware of an article in last Thursday's Age' in which attention was drawn to the emergency situation at the Dandenong and District Hospital whereby patients are being forced through overcrowding to sleep on balconies? Will the Minister, as a matter of urgency, refer these appalling conditions to the national Hospitals and Health Services Commission?

Dr EVERINGHAM (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Health) - These complaints have come to my notice - not through the Press but directly - and have been referred for attention not to the Hospital and Health Services Commission, because unfortunately the Commission as such, has not yet been established but to an interim committee which has been set up and which depends on my departmental officers for servicing. It will be some time before we can process the urgent needs of individual hospitals and voluntary organisations. In the meantime it would help considerably if the State authorities, the Church authorities and others concerned were to make detailed submissions to the interim committee, or to the Commission when it begins to operate as such, so that a system of needs and priorities can be set up for Commonwealth aid in this sort of activity. We envisage that when the national health insurance scheme is fully operative in the middle of next year approximately half of the costs of State hospitals will be met by the Commonwealth, which should be of considerable help to those hospitals in which these problems arise. In the meantime, if we could get from the State authorities more detailed submissions and some indication of the needs and priorities it would help in the making of an earlier decision by the committee, by the Commission after it is so constituted, and by Cabinet.

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