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Archbishop Prowse, Catholic Health Australia ‘totally stunned and shocked’ by ACT Govt takeover

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Archbishop Christopher Prowse said the decision came ‘without warning or discussion.’ Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Catholic Health Australia and the Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Archbishop Christopher Prowse, have both expressed “deep concern” over the abrupt decision by the ACT Government to compulsorily acquire Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, saying it sets a “disturbing precedent.”

Archbishop Prowse said in a 10 May release that he was “totally stunned and shocked” by the decision, “which came without warning or discussion.”

“We are utterly astounded. There has been no formal contact with the Archdiocese, nor has any reason been given,” he said.

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“The lack of transparency of the ACT Government raises several questions and concerns. It is a very sad day when governments can simply decide to mount a take-over of any enterprise they like without any justification.

“This is certainly a worrying precedent.”

CHA chairman, John Watkins AM, said it would be “alarming to not just Catholics, but all communities of faith.”

“Catholic hospitals have been caring for and healing Australians for 170 years and have long enjoyed a constructive and cooperative relationship with all Australian governments,” Mr Watkins said.

“This abrupt decision by the ACT Government is a worrying rejection of a system that has served millions and millions of Australians well.

“Our immediate concern lies with the 1800 employees at the hospital who have not been consulted about the potential ramifications of this decision. But longer term this is a distributing precedent for any government to set.

“Catholic hospitals account for around 10 per cent of the country’s total hospital services and treat more than 1.5 million patients annually. If they are to continue to provide their vital role they need to know their long-term arrangements will not be unilterally terminated on a whim.

“Catholic hospitals are a bedrock of the Australian health system providing holistic care to all who need it, especially our most vulnerable.

“Many patients specifically seek out Catholic hospitals for their unique approach to healthcare. Their focus on compassionate care and social justice has been invaluable as has their contribution to medical research and education.

“Taking over a Catholic hospital is very disruptive and could compromise distinctive institutional values and culture.”

In their statement, the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn said that after several months of dialogue, the government ceased participating in good faith negotiations with Calvary Hospital and prepared this decision without warning or consultation.

The archdiocese has indicated they will meet with Calvary Health Care to discuss these developments.

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