In light of recent statements in the media purporting that the private hospital industry in Australia is driven only by profit rather than patient care, Catholic Health Australia feel it timely to emphasise that our not-for-profit public and private hospitals make a substantial contribution to those needing hospital care, aged care and other services.
“We have over 83,300 employees in our sector, more than 10,000 hospital beds as well as 25,000 residential aged care beds and 36,500 home and community care packages”, states Catholic Health Australia’s Suzanne Greenwood.
Over the years, since the first Catholic hospital was established in Sydney in the 1850s, our health and aged care providers have cared for millions of Australians in need. Generations upon generations of Australians have been born in our maternity wards.
The increase in private health insurance funded hospitalisations in public hospitals has occurred across all Australian states, but is particularly significant in Queensland where the proportion increased between 2006 to 2016 from 4.8% to 15.4%.
This is why CHA congratulates Minister Hunt for considering and taking measures to ensure that patient choice is fully informed and there aren’t inappropriate incentives for public hospitals to maximise private patient admissions.
In our report entitled Upsetting the Balance: How the Growth of Private Patients in Public Hospitals is Impacting Australia’s Health System , we detailed the not-for-profit Catholic hospital sector’s response to concerns raised about the significant increase in private patients being treated in public hospitals. We found that the trend is having a damaging effect on patients, stakeholders, as well as the balance of Australia’s mixed model health system, and ultimately, the universality of Medicare.
“Australia’s mixed public-private healthcare system, which has served us very well since the inception of Medicare, is under threat. CHA supports the right of privately insured patients to use public hospital services as a fundamental feature of Australia’s health system.
However, we reject a system that could disadvantage public patients by public hospitals focusing their finite resources on treating private patients because they have financial incentives to do so. This undermines the efficacy of the public hospital network on which low income and vulnerable Australians are fully reliant”, says Catholic Health Australia’s Chair Tony Howarth.
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