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NSW rejects Abbott government offer to charge patients $7 for emergency treatment

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Some believe a hospital fee will be needed to stop people bypassing the $7 fee for visiting GPs.

Some believe a hospital fee will be needed to stop people bypassing the $7 fee for visiting GPs. Photo: Joseph Feil

NSW will not charge patients for treatment in its emergency departments, despite the Abbott government allowing states to do so.

The Commonwealth announced in the budget that it would remove restrictions that currently prevent public hospitals charging fees for treatment.

The change is designed to deter people from seeking care in emergency department to avoid a new $7 fee to visit a GP, while also providing some additional revenue to the states to partly offset cuts in Commonwealth funding.

But NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said her state would not be asking patients in its emergency departments to pay for their treatment.

“The NSW Government will not implement a co-payment for patients accessing our emergency departments,” Mrs Skinner said in a statement.

Mrs Skinner said she had spoken to her federal counterpart Peter Dutton on Wednesday to express her concerns about cuts to Commonwealth funding for hospitals.

“There is no doubt there have been significant cuts to the funding of state hospitals in the federal government’s budget. It is cost-shifting and NSW will have to accommodate a loss of more than $1 billion over the forward estimates for hospital services," she said.

But Mrs Skinner vowed the cuts would not affect services.

“There will be no cuts to hospital services," she said.

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