Health promises: What role for private health?

05/08/2010

CHA News Story
 
With 65 per cent of all surgery performed in private hospitals, Catholic Health Australia (CHA) has questioned why neither the Government nor the opposition has outlined new initiatives for private health care.

CHA CEO Martin Laverty said there are similarities between the Government’s proposal for Local Hospital Networks and the opposition’s proposal for Local Hospital Boards to serve the nation’s public hospitals.

“Catholic public and private hospitals are currently governed by boards; some local and some network-type boards. Our experience is that both can work,” Mr Laverty said.

“We’ve told the Government and the opposition that Catholic hospitals, providing 10 per cent of the nation’s hospital services, are willing to work with either plan if it will lead to improved patient outcomes.

“When a non-government hospital proves to have better quality outcomes and be more cost efficient, governments should be willing to use that hospital to ease the pressure on the public system.”

Mr Laverty said last year’s Productivity Commission assessment of public and private hospitals found fewer post surgical infections in non-government hospitals. Non-government hospitals were also found to be able to provide a hospital admission at an average of $130 less than government hospitals.

Certainty needed

Mr Laverty said the Coalition’s proposal to scrap Local Hospital Networks and Medicare Locals should be accompanied by a commitment to early and genuine implementation consultation with health care providers in the event of a change of government, adding that the opposition’s proposal of having the commonwealth fund 100 per cent of public hospital services in the future should also be fully explored.

“We’ve had three years of reviews and reports on changes to the health system but we still have no good detail on how Local Hospitals Networks or Medicare Locals will work. Nor have we got certainty as to how Catholic hospitals and aged care services will relate to these new bodies,” Mr Laverty said.

“In releasing the CHA Federal Election Platform, we asked both the Government and opposition to establish a Health Reform Implementation Advisory Council made up of health providers, to get the detail and implementation plan for system change in place.

“If Local Hospital Boards are put in place, we want a commitment to early consultation with non-government hospitals, to ensure we don’t see any more time taken up with uncertainty about the future of the nation’s hospital system.”


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