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Health Bosses Embellish and Misrepresent Private Monopoly

Media Statement For Immediate Release,
Tuesday, 18 December 2012

“Health Bosses Embellish, Spin And Misrepresent Private Monopoly Risk”

“Waitemata health bosses are engaging in embellishment, spin and misrepresentation to fudge the handing over of the running of a new public hospital elective surgical centre to private surgical contractors and risking it being controlled by a private monopoly,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. Mr Powell was referring to the decision of the Waitemata DHB in respect of the North Shore Elective Surgical Centre announced today.

“There is widespread support from public hospital specialists at Waitemata for this new dedicated elective (non-acute) surgical centre. Focusing exclusively on uncomplicated elective operations inevitably leads to significant improvements in patient throughput. More patients get more operations more quickly. Counties Manukau DHB has already proved this with their successful dedicated elective centre.”

“But Waitemata health bosses have, in effect, chosen to run the new surgical centre as if it were a private hospital (except that patients won’t pay). It will be run by private surgeons giving them effectively easier private practice subsidised by the taxpayer. There is a very high risk that once this arrangement starts in July, it will not be too long before the control of this public facility shifts to a private monopoly as they will have the effective power.”

“The claim that this is driven and supported by surgeons and anaesthetists is an embellishment. In October anaesthetists voted overwhelmingly to reject this private model instead arguing that they should be paid in the normal way as salaried public hospital specialists. There are also a number of surgeons who are unhappy or uneasy with this private system. The number of hospital specialists who support this private model is very small.”

“According to information provided to us these private contractors could be paid over $7,000 per half-day for the easiest surgery done in public hospitals. It is perverse and unfair that those doing easier surgery are paid much more than those doing more complicated acute or emergency surgery. It devalues the work of other hospital specialists such as those treating patients with chronic conditions or serious mental health illnesses or those working in emergency departments. This is a recipe for divisiveness and conflict in a public hospital that depends on collegiality and cooperation.”

“It is false to claim that there has been extensive consultation with clinicians and unions over this semi-privatisation. It is also false to suggest that we had proposed a payment model based on our national collective agreement. We were having discussions but these were being stymied by the cabal driving their private model behind the scenes. It was the sort of consultation and negotiation that you have when you are not having consultation and negotiation.”

“Waitemata DHB’s health bosses are behaving like high ego show ponies that only know one trick. They certainty don’t know the complexities and values of a modern public health system,” concluded Mr Powell.

Ian Powell


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