Shepparton Private to help with pandemic

By Morgan Dyer

Shepparton Private Hospital is expected to open its doors to public patients to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the Federal Government, Victorian Government and private hospital sector struck a deal that will see more than 657 private hospitals across Australia integrate with the public system.

The deal will mean 35 000 extra beds and 100 000 extra healthcare workers are made available to fight the pandemic.

Danny Sims, the chief executive of Ramsay Health Care Australia, which owns and operates Shepparton Private Hospital, said he welcomed the announcement.

“As government talks continue with the private sector, Shepparton Private Hospital is focusing locally on ensuring we are ready to play our part in addressing the effects of this virus in our region,” Mr Sims said.

“Our goal is to make available our resources and capacity to assist with the impact of COVID-19 in whatever way is required over the coming weeks and months."

The deal will also ensure the survival of the private sector after the pandemic is over, as
last week a number of private hospitals were looking at standing down staff or even closing, as elective surgeries were suspended.

Mr Sims said it was vital health workers worked together as one health system to ensure the best care was given to communities.

“The Federal Government recognises private hospitals can be of valuable assistance during this time,” he said.

“We now look forward to urgently finalising agreements with the state governments, which will ensure the capacity and resources of the private hospital sector, including nurses, beds and equipment, can be appropriately utilised."

Under the deal, private hospitals will be able to treat public patients — those with and without coronavirus — perform category one elective surgery, provide access to intensive care beds, and quarantine and isolate high-risk cases.

A range of personal protective equipment will also be made available.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the deal would boost Australia’s capacity to deal with the virus and ensure the viability of the private sector.

“We will be guaranteeing the viability, along with the states, of all 657 private hospitals in Australia — and we're doing this with a Commonwealth guarantee, then state partnerships, and then the individual private hospitals relying on the source income that they have from their ordinary operations,” Mr Hunt said.

“It will bring over 105 000 full- and part-time hospital staff, including 57 000 of our amazing nurses and midwives.

“It guarantees them their future and their support, both during the crisis and beyond.

“But most importantly, it brings their resources to the fight against coronavirus, COVID-19, in Australia.”