Abbott denies he got special treatment
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
FEDERAL Health Minister Tony Abbott yesterday denied claims he had received preferential treatment for a kidney condition at the Lismore Base Hospital.
The Liberal politician admitted himself to the Lismore Base emergency department on Tuesday afternoon where other patients were being forced to wait for up to nine hours.
A spokeswoman for the Minister said he was admitted immediately because of the seriousness of his condition.
He was later transferred to St Vincent's Hospital where he underwent an operation to remove a kidney stone.
One woman, who did not wish to be identified, sustained neck injuries in a car accident but was not seen by a doctor in the same department for nine hours.
Another woman said she waited for eight hours to be seen for sinus problems and was then given a bed in the children's ward as there was no room elsewhere.
A spokeswoman for the Northern Rivers Area Health Service said Mr Abbott would have been treated the same as anyone else.
"He was seen promptly but the emergency department wasn't full," she said.
The spokeswoman also said emergency patients were assessed and treated based on the seriousness of their conditions.
Labor candidate for Page Kevin Bell said he hoped the Health Minister's illness did warrant prompt treatment.
"I would hope that his condition was more serious than the others waiting in line," he said.
"Labor's policies are about fixing those problems that Mr Abbott came up against himself in Lismore."
The slightly pale but otherwise healthy minister defended his decision to move to St Vincent's Hospital.
"I have private health insurance and I chose to use it to free up a public bed in Lismore Base Hospital," he said.
"They could've done it at Lismore Base, but I thought it would be better not to take a bed in a public hospital."