This means that all Healthe Care hospital staff and its hospitals can continue to help the public health system and retain capacity for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, to be formalised through State Health Agreements in the coming days.
The private hospital operator, which operates 34 facilities in metropolitan and regional communities clarified its position on hospital staffing, following the company’s relentless push with State and Federal Governments to get certainty on keeping its hospitals open while providing job security.
Healthe Care CEO, Steve Atkins said, “it has been an incredibly difficult time for our Healthe Care staff, particularly in light of the decisions government has had to make in response to the impacts of
COVID-19. We have over 8,000 staff across our network, and unfortunately 300 have been impacted this week. We did not make this decision lightly, and have extended additional benefits around leave access versus leave without pay to these staff, to help to offset the impact."
“In this time of heightened uncertainty, employment security for our people has been our primary focus which is why we’ve extended leave benefits to staff; in line with working with government to advocate for a private health sector guarantee.”
“We fully support Minister Hunt’s $1.3 billion funding announcement overnight, and look forward to discussing the details and accessibility so we can ensure job sustainability for our staff into the future.”
The company has been in lock down discussions with State Governments, with the Victorian State Health Agreement to be signed by private hospital operators including Healthe Care Australia nearing finalisation.
Mr Atkins said this was a “significant step forward” in tackling the unprecedented challenges facing not only Australia’s healthcare industry, but all businesses and Australians.
“We’re reassured that government has listened to us, and has confirmed the private hospital sector’s critical role in supporting Australia's health sector combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Our staff are critical to our private hospitals and will be critical support for the overall health sector under this federal plan.”
“There has been a lot of uncertainty we’ve been faced with around the future of private hospitals in Australia; however its reassuring our future and critical role in providing healthcare is now confirmed through the government’s capacity assurance statements. As of today, our staff have been informed of our decision to cease the hospital staff stand down and we are working with each employee around returning to work.”
Healthe Care already has a cohort of clinical staff who are trained and ready to accept COVID-19 patients, and is training and up-skilling additional staff around COVID-19 requirements to ensure the ability to respond to COVID-19 and support public health needs into the future as determined.
“We remain ready and willing to help our country as best we can in this time of significant community need, and believe that our doctors, nurses, staff and hospitals have a significant role to play in assisting the public sector and our community to combat the far-reaching effect of COVID-19.”
“We’re glad to see the government has agreed to underwrite private hospitals as not-for-profit entities during the crisis, and are hopeful all COVID-19 partnership agreements will be finalised with our respective State Governments in the coming days, as per government advisement,” said Mr Atkins.