“A new public hospital for Dunedin is long overdue and very welcome but it needs to be fully funded by the Government instead of allowing private investors to profit at the expense of patient care,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).
He was commenting on Health Minister Jonathan Coleman’s announcement that Dunedin would get a new $1 billion-plus hospital, and that all funding options – including a Private Public Partnership (PPP) model – would be explored: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/dunedin-largest-new-hospital-build-nz-history.
“The Government’s foreshadowing of a PPP as a real option for Dunedin is part of a wider pattern of privatisation by stealth, which we’re seeing signs of in both Westport and Christchurch, and this is of great concern to senior doctors and others,” says Mr Powell.
“If the Government does go down this track in Dunedin, then it would essentially be handing over the keys for one of the country’s biggest public hospitals to private investors to maximise extracting profits for themselves. Much of these profits would come from repayments Southern DHB would be forced to pay out of its increased annual operating expenses.
“The winners are private investors through profit extraction and the Government’s financial books. The losers are patients with the increased risk of deterioration of services and increased barriers to timely access for treatment,” warned Mr Powell.
“PPPs have been tried in England and proved financially disastrous, and we need to avoid this happening in Dunedin.
“Decisions about our hospitals and health services need to be driven by the needs of our communities, rather than ideological support for privatisation. There’s a real challenge here after the general election next month for the next Government to step up to the challenge of providing good public health care in New Zealand.”
ASMS has previously raised concerns about the funding model for a new medical centre in Westport: https://www.asms.org.nz/news/asms-news/2017/05/18/dhb-pushed-funding-deal-will-take-money-patient-services-full-disclosure-independent-scrutiny-required/.