657 private hospitals will be integrated into our public hospital system adding 34,000 hospital beds and their personal protective and other equipment to the Coviod-19 cause. This is reassuring but it does raise a few questions.
This is clearly a rescue package for the private hospital sector but why did the Government suddenly stop all ‘elective’ surgery in the first place? Was it the intention to bring these hospitals more willingly to the negotiating table?
The plan will cost $1.3 billion, but the Government insists it will spend more if needed but it’s not clear whether services will be free for all patients.
Health Ministert Hunt’s press release: In conjunction with Commonwealth, State and Territory Health Ministers, private hospitals will support the COVID-19 response through services including but not limited to:
- Hospital services for public patients – both positive and negative for COVID‑19.
- Category 1 elective surgery.
- Utilisation of wards and theatres to expand ICU capacity.
- Accommodation for quarantine and isolation cases where necessary, and safety procedures and training are in place, including:
- Cruise and flight covid-19 passengers.
- Quarantine of vulnerable members of the community.
- Isolation of infected vulnerable COVID-19 patients.
Hooray to quarantine and isolation accommodation!
Minister Hunt also says the deal will:
- Allow activities such as non-urgent elective surgery to resume and accelerate at the appropriate time, once the COVID-19 pandemic recedes.
So, business as usual, or is this nationalisation of private hospitals? Maybe not such a bad idea …