Catholic Health welcomes Labor shift on private hospitals

The head of Catholic Health Australia, Francis Sullivan, has welcomed comments from Labor's health spokesperson, Julia Gillard, who last night suggested that a Labor government would pay private hospitals to train doctors and take over elective surgery.

"This is a significant signal from Labor that they're prepared to embrace the benefits of private health and to recognise more practical uses of the system's capacity," Mr Sullivan (pictured) told The Age.

In her speech at the University of New England, Ms Gillard also raised the prospect of a federal takeover of state-run hospitals if the ALP wins the next federal election.

The next five-year public hospital funding agreements between the Commonwealth and the states - which will come into force in 2008 - "must do more to integrate and utilise the private hospital sector", Ms Gillard said in her speech.

"We should be looking for ways to better integrate private hospital services into the provision of publicly funded health care and the training of health professionals," she said.

Ms Gillard said that state governments and the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs already paid private hospitals to operate on public patients, but "we'd obviously be contemplating that being a more general feature of the system."

A Labor government would also use the private sector to train doctors, she said. "With much of what is termed elective surgery, such as eye and joint surgery, happening these days in private hospitals, unless you have training agreements (with them) then young surgeons won't get enough of that kind of training."

Labor flags public hospitals takeover (The Age, 23/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Health Australia

Catholic Health backs Labor's Medicare Gold refinement (CathNews, 9/8/06)
Labor embraces vision of Catholic Health (CathNews 31/10/04)
Catholic Health says Medicare Gold 'tips the scales' (CathNews 7/10/04)
Strong Catholic Health support for Labor's Medicare Gold Card (CathNews 30/9/04)

23 Aug 2006