Hospital ‘tax’ not dismissed

Opposition leader Mark McGowan, Girrawheen MLA Margaret Quirk and Butler MLA John Quigley. www.communitypix.com.aud420612
Opposition leader Mark McGowan, Girrawheen MLA Margaret Quirk and Butler MLA John Quigley. www.communitypix.com.aud420612

Opposition leader Mark McGowan, Butler MLA John Quigley and Girrawheen MLA Margaret Quirk convened at Joondalup Health Campus recently to gather signatures for a petition against a possible fee at emergency departments.

The opposition is adamant the State Government is ‘set to introduce a new hospital tax, by charging patients for treatment at our emergency departments,’ as quoted from Mr McGowan’s web page.

Opposition health spokesman Roger Cook accused the State Government of undermining the public healthcare system.

‘With (Prime Minister) Tony Abbott’s $7 GP co-payment, we can expect more people coming to Joondalup Health Campus’ emergency department (to avoid the co-payment), but (Premier) Colin Barnett wants to slug them too,’ he said.

‘Hospital staff know that collecting revenue is bad for patients and would add unnecessary bureaucracy to our public hospitals.’

But Mr Barnett said the Government would only consider an emergency department fee if hospitals became overrun with patients looking to avoid the proposed $7 fee for seeing a GP.

‘That would create congestion and it would be high cost to the public health system,’ Mr Barnett said.

‘I don’t think we will see a big shift (of people using EDs instead of GPs), but that’s just something we have got to monitor and see what happens.’

While reluctant to put a charge on ED visits, Mr Barnett considered a minimum level of charging as not ‘such a bad thing’ to help control the ‘over usage of services’.

The WA Labor petition can be signed here.