Doubts over privatisation model
A privatised Perth hospital held up as a model “public-private partnership” has a poor record for patient waiting times.
In announcing the new Northern Beaches Hospital “public-private partnership” (PPP) in 2013, NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the government had learned lessons from the disastrous privatisation of Port Macquarie hospital.
The NSW Auditor-General found that the final cost of the Port Macquarie privatisation had substantially exceeded the cost to government that would have occurred had the hospital been operated by the public sector.
The government was forced to buy back Port Macquarie in 2004 and the Auditor-General likened the privatisation process to “paying for the hospital twice then giving it away”.
The privately operated Northern Beaches hospital will replace Mona Vale and Manly public hospitals and will deliver “better value for the taxpayers,” Mrs Skinner promised in 2013.
She said the Northern Beaches privatisation would be “similar” to the model used at Joondalup Health Campus in Perth.
Joondalup is the largest health care facility in Perth’s northern suburbs and has featured combined public and private services for 20 years.
Originally an 80-bed public district hospital, Joondalup was handed to the private sector in 1996 with public and private hospitals sharing the same emergency department, operating theatres and intensive care facilities.
But if patient wait times are any-thing to go by, Joondalup is a dubious model.
Overall, NSW has a better record on emergency department wait times than Western Australia.
In NSW, 81 per cent of emergency presentations were seen on time during 2015-2016. WA could only achieve 65 per cent, according to statistics released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Even using WA’s inferior benchmark, Joondalup’s emergency department within the “public” hospital operated by Ramsay Health Care did particularly poorly.
According to the MyHospitals web-site, in 2015-16, only 26 per cent of Joondalup urgent patients were treated within 30 minutes of arrival at the ED, compared to its national peer group performance of 63 per cent.
In the semi-urgent category, 50 per cent of patients were treated within 60 minutes of arrival at the Joondalup ED, compared to its national peer group performance of 73 per cent.
Joondalup also rates poorly by comparison with other WA emergency departments.
An examination of Triage 4 waiting times at nine WA EDs shows Joondalup to be bottom or near bottom almost every day.
The WA Labor opposition raised issues about the Joondalup model last August, with Opposition health spokesman Roger Cook criticising its “off-stretcher” times.
He said that in the previous week, the campus was the worst performer for off-stretcher times in Perth with an average 34.4 per cent of patients moved from ambulance care within 20 minutes.
By comparison, Royal Perth Hospital had a 45.66 per cent average, he said.
More information: http://www.myhospitals.gov.au/our-reports/time-in-emergency-departments/december-2016/overview