Ambulance charges ?outrageous
THE mother of a 20-year-old man slugged $860 for a two-kilometre ambulance ride between Greenmount Beach and the Tweed Hospital has lashed out at the charge.
Mary Lynch of Banora Point said her son Mathew, a Tweed Heads & Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club member, received a deep laceration to his leg while surfing last month and had to share an ambulance to Tweed Hospital with an injured female Brazilian tourist.
Mrs Lynch, a nurse, said the $850 cost would be covered by the family's medical insurance but said many young people could not afford private insurance.
"I'm a nurse and when he rang to say an ambulance had been called I said don't go because I knew about the charge. However he said it was club policy to call an ambulance," she said.
The case follows a ministerial intervention last year after the Daily News revealed that an elderly couple on pensions had been slugged $860 for a similar journey between Queensland and New South Wales.
The NSW government moved quickly to ensure that pensioners would be exempt from future charges, however most citizens still face an $850 bill if they require an ambulance and do not have health insurance.
Nationals candidate Geoff Provest, who raised the matter yesterday, said the high charges were "a disgusting scam".
"While Labor did a back-flip on charging pensioners for Queensland ambulance rides last year, the rest of the population, including children, was left out of the quick-fix," Mr Provest said.
He said Pottsville Public School was the latest Tweed school to put an end to excursions to Brisbane and the Gold Coast because parents would be hit with massive ambulance charges should their children suffer a mishap while across the border.
Tweed MP Neville Newell said, how- ever, that the fault lay with the Queensland government which had refused to re-enter a reciprocal arrangement with NSW.
He said provisions had been made by the government to ensure that pensioners could claim back any such charges, but other people were still subject to the charges of other states if they had not taken out $50 ambulance insurance.
Meanwhile, Mrs Lynch said her son Mathew had since recovered after receiving stitches in his leg and was currently competing at the Australian life saving titles in Western Australia. ? DARREN COYNE