Queensland better off with more private hospitals

Australian Financial Review

29th August 2006

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Building hospitals in Queensland has apparently become fashionable at election time ("Promises, promises, but no PPP option", August 28). Premier Peter Beattie's latest change of mind involves a promise to build a large children's hospital in Brisbane. This is to be a public hospital that avoids a public-private partnership, although existing policy requires assessment for private sector involvement.


More importantly, it will preclude the opportunity to involve private hospitals directly in providing such facilities.


Under the Beattie Government the proportion of patients treated at public hospitals has dropped from 64 to 53 per cent, so nearly half of all Queensland hospital patients are now paying for their treatment at private hospitals - the highest in Australia.


[Contrary to popular perceptions,] Queensland's overall provision of hospital beds per capita is as high or higher than in most states as private hospitals take over the role of public counterparts, and generally perform better than them, according to an independent report last year.


Competition works: particular attention is given to monitoring standards to minimise the risk of Dr Death type incidents in public hospitals. Savings to the Queensland taxpayer from private hospital usage amount to nearly $2 billion net per annum.


It would be more efficient and would provide better quality care if the private hospital sector were to be encouraged to further expand in Queensland