Are private hospitals victims of the COVID pandemic?

This week, writing for the Medical Journal of Australia’s Insight +, Chair of the Australian Doctor’s Federation Dr Aniello Iannuzzi looks at the pressure on private hospitals in Australia.  

Dr Iannuzzi says several generations of Australians have enjoyed a health system that balances public and private medicine in a manner that is, in theory at least, fair, accessible and affordable. 

However, he says, in recent years, private models of hospital and outpatient care have come under considerable pressure, as commercial interests, regulation and population factors change.

“The COVID-19 pandemic of the past two years has amplified these pressures particularly on Australian private hospitals, due to costs for personal protective equipment, absenteeism, and reliance on telemedicine rather than face to face consultations. 

This makes me wonder whether Australia’s private hospital system will become the unwitting casualty of the pandemic.” 

Dr Ianuzzi says Australian private hospitals number 639, meaning more than one-third of Australia’s hospitals are private. In a typical year, that is, pre-COVID-19, the private hospital sector accounted for 4.4 million hospitalisations. 

He says in their 2022–23 Budget Submission, the Australian Private Hospitals Association report that as at 30 June 2021, 290 000 fewer privately insured patients than expected were treated in private hospitals, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and says many of these missing episodes of care will never be recovered 

Read the full article here

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