Catholic hospitals join pandemic fight

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Private hospitals will now become an important part of the country’s healthcare response.

Historic agreement to expand resources and ICU beds

Australia’s Catholic hospital system has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of an unprecedented deal to merge Australia’s state and private hospitals to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government’s announcement means that private hospitals, which have rarely been tasked with treating coronavirus victims, will now become an integral part of the national healthcare system response.

The National Coronavirus partnership will provide the certainty that the not-for-profit hospital sector needs to maintain its full capacity and shift its service offerings towards fighting coronavirus, said Catholic Health Australia CEO Pat Garcia.

Catholic hospitals account for around 30 per cent of all private hospital patients and approximately 10 per cent of all healthcare needs across Australia.

Extra 80 hospitals now on call for virus patients

“This deal, made in conjunction with State and Territory partnership agreements, will ensure that everyone in the health sector – the private sector, Catholic not-for-profits and the public hospitals – will be working together to fight this pandemic,” Mr Garcia said.

“Our doctors and nurses have been ready for weeks but this deal ensures they can remain at their posts.

Catholic Health Australia CEO Pat Garcia

“Minister Hunt has guaranteed the Catholic hospital network’s viability through this pandemic. The Australian public can now take comfort that its 80 hospitals are well-placed to continue to serve the sick over the course of this pandemic, and beyond.

“The Commonwealth government envisaged a nationwide response to the pandemic from all of our hospitals and thanks to the hard work by Minister Hunt that is exactly what we can achieve if everyone signs up to this historic deal. We urge the States and Territories to develop nationally consistent agreements with the private sector and to consider the universally-supported Victorian model when doing that.

“The Australian public can now take comfort”

“Importantly this partnership also ensures that Australia’s world-class health system will emerge intact on the other side of this pandemic. We know that there will be a back-log of elective surgeries and other care needs which just cannot be provided during a pandemic.

“The private health sector will now be able to provide the necessary resources to accelerate elective surgeries and ensure that all Australians receive the care they need, once the pandemic has passed.”

Under the agreement, the Federal and state governments will each pay 50 per cent of the costs of the services provided by private hospitals. The Commonwealth is then offering a $1.3 billion “viability guarantee” to offset the revenue private hospitals will lose from the cancellation of elective surgeries.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the deal integrated the public and private hospital systems to “dramatically expand” the country’s capacity to deal with the pandemic.

The private hospital sector, which includes the Catholic non-profit hospital network, has more than 100,000 staff including 57,000 nurses, more than 300 overnight acute private hospitals, and one-third of Australia’s ICU capacity.

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