Catholic hospitals partner with public hospitals to fight COVID-19

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Communications Office and Catholic Health Australia

The Federal Government has ensured its hospitals will be able to continue the fight against coronavirus as part of the National Coronavirus partnership, a historic Commonwealth agreement to fight COVID-19.

The National Coronavirus partnership will ensure public hospitals have access to the capacity of the private health system as the COVID-19 pandemic puts unprecedented pressure on medical services and intensive care units.

Under this deal, private hospitals will open up their 35,000 private beds to public hospital patients and give them access to tens of thousands of nurses and doctors.

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 Australian ICU capacity.

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

“It is about integrating two national systems — our public and private hospital systems — in a once-in-a-century redesign of our hospital services,” said Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, describing the deal as a reconstruction of the nation’s health system.

Australia’s largest grouping of not-for-profit health providers, Catholic Health Australia, welcomed the news.

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) CEO Pat Garcia said: “The not-for-profit Catholic hospitals welcome the Morrison Government's National Viability for Capacity Guarantee. "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. Our doctors and nurses have been ready for weeks but this deal ensures they can remain at their posts.

“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.”

Mr Garcia added: “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 backlog 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.”

Federal and state governments are sharing the cost, with each state across the nation facilitating each deal with private hospitals on a pay-per-service basis.

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