FUNDING QUESTION: Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton visited the Member for Page Kevin Hogan before a tour of the Ballina Hospital.
FUNDING QUESTION: Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton visited the Member for Page Kevin Hogan before a tour of the Ballina Hospital. Cathy Adams

Ballina hospital upgrade promise discussed at MPs' meeting

PURSUING the government's $4.5m pre-election promise to upgrade the Ballina hospital was at the forefront of a meeting between Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton and Page MP Kevin Hogan in Lismore yesterday.

Mr Dutton met with a range of leading health professionals in the region including representatives from North Coast Area Health, North Coast Medicare Local, GPs, Southern Cross University and St Vincents.

In August last year, the Coalition announced it would allocate $4.5m for a second operating theatre and a medical imaging department for the Ballina Hospital if elected.

As well as looking at plans for the Ballina hospital, Mr Hogan said keeping the Northern Rivers at the front of federal pilot health care projects would also be a focus of the meeting.

"When he's looking to run out pilot programs or looking to do things, I want this community, the community of Page, to be very much on his agenda," Mr Hogan said.

When asked about an Abbott Government plan to introduce a fee to attend hospital emergency departments, Mr Dutton said he had no comment to make about pre-budget speculation.

A press release from the NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson said there were reports the Federal Government has a secret plan to allow state governments to impose a charge on patients who report to hospitals with what turn out to be a less serious charge.

"Emergency departments and hospitals are run by state governments and I know that there are concerns about people turning up to emergency departments with minor ailments, particularly when emergency departments should be for people in real emergency and in need of urgent ambulatory care," Mr Dutton said.

Mr Dutton said both State and Federal Health Ministers would be meeting in Brisbane on Friday to look at options to increase immunisation rates.



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