Tuesday, 31 March 2020

The Australian Government has partnered with the private hospital sector to ensure the full resources of our world class health system, are ready and focused on treating patients as required, through the coronavirus pandemic.

Our Government has guaranteed the viability and capacity of the private hospital sector, in an agreement that will ensure over 30,000 hospital beds, and the sector’s 105,000 skilled workforce, is available alongside the public hospital sector.

This will strengthen our Australian COVID-19 response, and preserve the sector’s capacity to resume hospital services after the epidemic.

The Commonwealth will offer agreements to all 657 private and not-for-profit hospitals to ensure their viability, in return for maintenance and capacity during the CoVID-19 response.

State and territory governments will also complete private hospital COVID-19 partnership agreements in the coming days.

In an unprecedented move, private hospitals, including both overnight and day hospitals, will integrate with state and territory health systems in the COVID-19 response.

These facilities will be required to make infrastructure, essential equipment (including ventilators), supplies (including PPE), workforce and additional resources fully available to the state and territory hospital system or the Australian Government.

They will also continue to support the needs of long-stay public hospital National Disability Insurance Scheme participants, and aged care patients and general needs patients.

In conjunction with Commonwealth, State and Territory Health Ministers, private hospitals will support the COVID-19 response through services including but not limited to:
• Hospital services for public patients – both positive and negative for COVID 19.
• Category 1 elective surgery.
• Utilisation of wards and theatres to expand ICU capacity.
• Accommodation for quarantine and isolation cases where necessary, and safety procedures and training are in place, including:
• Cruise and flight covid-19 passengers.
• Quarantine of vulnerable members of the community.
• Isolation of infected vulnerable COVID-19 patients.

This is a landmark decision. Our Government is underwriting the future of the private hospital sector to:

• Ensure health network capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Provide workforce retention that includes medical, nursing, clinical and ancillary staff to preserve the private hospital sector.

• Allow activities such as non-urgent elective surgery to resume and accelerate at the appropriate time, once the COVID-19 pandemic recedes.

Our government recognises the fundamental and heroic role of our medical and nursing staff and this agreement further strengthens our health system. It gives us the capacity to respond to COVID-19 now, and the ability to preserve our hospital network for our nation’s health needs once we emerge from the crisis.

I personally want to thank our medical, nursing and allied health and support staff for their skill, dedication and compassion.

Health professionals will be provided appropriate training and equipment to ensure patient care is safe, and the health and safety of the workforce is maintained.

The arrangements will be reviewed throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure ongoing appropriateness.

Ultimately our fundamental priority is the health and well-being of all Australians.