AMBO SLUG BITES AGAIN
By ED SOUTHORN
ROBYN Browne was forced to drive her ailing mother Rita to hospital because she could not afford the $860 cross-border ambulance fee charged on uninsured pensioners.
Theirs is the latest shocking example of the interstate ambulance fees fiasco which follows the breakdown of a reciprocal payment arrangement between NSW and Queensland.
The reciprocal arrangement had guaranteed NSW pensioners needing an ambulance from Queensland to NSW were not charged anything.
Two weeks ago Rita Brown celebrated her 87th birthday by visiting her daughter's Gold Coast hinterland property. While watching television, she suffered a fit and briefly lost consciousness.
Robyn phoned 000 and a Queensland ambulance arrived within minutes.
"They were happy to take mum to The Tweed Hospital because she's been there before, but when they found out she lived across the border they told us we would have to pay $860," Robyn said yesterday.
She said neither she or her mother could afford the $860.
"They were very apologetic about the charge."
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Mrs Brown needed to be hospitalised. Her condition was stabilised at Mudgeeraba and the Queensland ambulance officers allowed her to travel in Robyn's car to save the $860 bill.
"It was absolutely ridiculous," Robyn said.
"Thank goodness we were not confronted with a life and death situation, or we would have had no choice.
"The ambulance officers were terrific. If they had said mum must be transported by ambulance and there was no other option, we would have had to accept an invoice."
As well as the stressful 40-minute car journey to The Tweed Hospital, Robyn was phoned by a doctor later that night to advise her mother needed exploratory surgery.
Mrs Brown also had a blood transfusion and remained in hospital for a week.
Health Minister John Hatzistergos told the Daily News last Sunday he was urging Queensland to rejoin the reciprocal funding scheme, although he was considering a request from Tweed MP Neville Newell for NSW to charge the Queensland Ambulance Service the full cost of NSW taking care of Queensland ambulance patients.
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