Canberra's move: A national chance to cut surgery waiting lists

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) today welcomed the ACT Government's move to reduce public hospital waiting lists by providing public elective surgery in private hospitals. CHA CEO Martin Laverty said the ACT joins Queensland -- where the Surgery Connect program has halved the number of people waiting for public surgery for longer than their doctors recommend -- in pioneering a system that should be considered nationally.

"With this system in place, public patients will get faster access to the surgery they need. But the process has got to be designed properly. Governments and private hospitals will need to come to mutually agreeable terms for the process to succeed," Mr Laverty said.

"This is also a chance to define the way in which government and non-government hospitals successfully interact through the new Local Hospital Networks.

"With the new Networks rolling out around Australia, we have an unprecedented opportunity to introduce nationally a more coordinated approach to enable both public and private hospitals to provide quality, timely health care to all Australians."

CHA represents public and private not-for-profit hospitals caring for one in 10 of all Australians in a hospital bed.

"Australia's public hospitals are running above capacity while our private hospitals have spare beds," Mr Laverty said.

"Allowing private hospitals who are willing and able to treat public elective surgery patients is a simple and very effective way to ensure people can have their surgery when they need it."

CHA is keen to see the detail of how the ACT Government intends to make public surgery available through private operators.

"We watch with interest and hope this initiative opens the door to greater dialogue about how to evolve to a more efficient and effective system nationally," Mr Laverty said.

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