Gympie Private Hospital
Gympie Private Hospital Troy Jegers

Curran, Perrett condemn hospital closure as 80 jobs go

GYMPIE'S political leaders are seeking an urgent meeting with the owners of Gympie Private Hospital, which will close in four weeks, meaning the loss of at least 80 jobs, 30 of them nurses.

The owners of the hospital, Healthe Care Australia, have cited unviability and external factors such as difficulty attracting doctors, surgeons and anaesthetists.

State MP Tony Perrett and Mayor Mick Curran have both voiced their deep concern at the closure and the impact it will have on jobs and health.

POWER 30 - Gympie MP Tony Perrett.
POWER 30 - Gympie MP Tony Perrett. Philippe Coquerand

The hospital will officially close on February 28.

"I am very concerned that the option of the private hospital looks like going,” Mr Perrett said yesterday. "Obviously this is a commercial decision but it will definitely have an impact on our existing public health services.

"I am a strong advocate for improved health services in the region.

"This announcement will put a strain on what can be provided locally for patients.

"Locals already often have to travel long distances to the Sunshine Coast and to Brisbane to seek treatment with health care providers and at other facilities.

"Many of them are already experiencing difficulty paying for and organising transport.

"I have written to the Minister for Health, Steven Miles, to make him aware of the situation and sought an urgent briefing on what impact this will have on existing health services in the public hospital.”

Cr Curran is seeking a meeting with Healthe Care to see what can be done.

Mick Curran power 30.
Mick Curran power 30. Renee Albrecht

"I was very disappointed to hear this morning of the closure of the Gympie Private Hospital, and what this means for our community. We are a growing region which requires and deserves an increase in our health services, not a reduction,” he said.

"The fact that the decision hasn't taken into consideration the needs of our residents is frustrating. I do acknowledge the business aspects of the decision but that brings into question the level of services the State is currently providing in Gympie.

"Taking away any health services from our region is going to have a major impact for those who rely on the service.

"While I acknowledge the state-of-the-art facilities on the coast, to expect residents to travel over an hour for basic procedures is unrealistic.

Gympie Private Hospital
Gympie Private Hospital Troy Jegers

"Due to illness or age, we know that travelling can be hard, transport may be an issue, time away from family or work, the cost - these issues haven't been considered.

"On top of the lack of service this decision brings, the loss of employment for our community is also going to have a major impact.

"We (Council) will contact the owners to meet with them to assist in exploring other opportunities to maintain the delivery of health services in the Gympie region.”

A statement from Healthe Care released on Thursday night said that since acquiring Gympie Private Hospital as part of the Pulse Health group acquisition in May 2017, it had worked to improve the facility's operational viability.

Executive general manager Clinical Governance, Risk and Quality, Geoff Sam said on acquisition the company was committed to exploring all avenues to strengthen the business, despite concerns around the currency of the facility and its equipment.

"Despite its best efforts to improve the hospital's performance, many external factors impacted the the viability of the private hospital,” Mr Sam said.

He cited difficulty getting medical, surgical and anaesthetic staff, growing competition from larger operators with more comprehensive services nearby, and "significant building and capital investments required to meet ongoing optimal quality service facility requirements and patient expectations”.

"For these reasons, it is no longer viable to run a sustainable hospital operation that continues to provide quality services, outcomes and care whilst meeting patient and specialist expectations from a private health provider,” Mr Sam said.

The closure was not something the company had taken lightly.

"We recognise the efforts of the entire hospital team, and understand this is difficult news for staff, doctors and, of course, the wider Gympie community,” Mr Sam said.

"We are supporting our staff through the closure and thank them for their understanding. We are also working with doctors to make arrangements for any future surgical bookings, to minimise any inconvenience to patients.

"Under Healthe Care ownership, every effort has been made to improve the operational viability of the hospital, but it's important to recognise that in the long term this is not maintainable.”

Heathley Asset Management Limited will continue to explore other healthcare opportunities to maintain the delivery of health services to the community of Gympie.

Gympie Times

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