Private healthcare needs shared solutions

by MedicMall Admin


Working together is the key to addressing the significant challenges impacting Australia’s healthcare system.

That was the message from Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA)  President Christine Gee AM at the APHA 41st National Congress in April. 

During her keynote address, Ms Gee acknowledged the sector was facing a time of “unprecedented challenges”.

“But people value private hospitals,” she said. 

“Even in the face of cost-of-living pressures, they continue to invest in their private health insurance, so if and when they need to access hospital treatment they can access high quality care with the doctor of their choice, at the hospital of their choice and at the time of their choice.”

Ms Gee said the private sector had continued to deliver increased efficiencies in the past two years, despite “sharp cost increases”.

“It’s more important than ever that health insurers partner with private hospitals to ensure that the sector can continue to deliver the services that Australians count on,” she said.

Ms Gee said private hospitals serviced 4.8 million patients each year, provided 32 percent of all Intensive Care Unit separations, 61 percent of all surgical services, and more than 80 percent of all in-patient rehabilitation separations.

The sector also provides up to 45 percent of all acute adult psychiatric beds and 54 percent of all chemotherapy.

“It’s in the mutual interest of private health insurers and hospitals to negotiate commercially viable options,” Ms Gee said.

“Unfortunately, 15 private facilities have closed in the past year, including four psychiatric hospitals, and important services such as obstetrics have been withdrawn in some areas. 

“It’s inevitable there will be further closures, but APHA has put the government on notice to step in and work with us. 

“We need government-targeted support, and national-level reform is needed.”

During her keynote address, Ms Gee identified a list of services provided by the private sector, which included:

  • More than 30 emergency departments
  • More than 100 intensive care units
  • More than 1.6 million surgical admissions
  • 1.6 million medical admissions
  • 70,000 admissions for childbirth
  • 1.4 million days of intensive multidisciplinary rehabilitation
  • 976,000 days of overnight psychiatric care
  • 240,000 days of ambulatory mental health care

Ms Gee said it was time for Australia to decide how to best use the valuable resources of the private hospital sector.

“Private hospitals employ 150,000 people … and we deliver benefits beyond our organisations.

“We play an essential role in communities, and when a service closes, it’s felt at a local level. 

“The challenges that face the private sector are shared problems and we need shared solutions,” she said. 

“APHA calls on governments, state and national to strike a National Health Reform Agreement that recognises the private hospital sector as an integral and essential part of Australia’s health system. The agreement needs to facilitate a genuine partnership between public and private and harness the strengths and capabilities of our important sector.   

“We cannot address these challenges in isolation but there are currently no forums bringing private and public hospital sectors together with consumers, clinicians, and those working in primary and community care. 

“We need to make these conversations happen as a matter of urgency.”


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