Collocation – 25 December 1997

“The race to build large for-profit private hospitals next to existing not-for-profit public hospitals may be the first step in the disappearance of the public hospital” Dr Bruce Shepherd, Chairman of the Australian Doctors’ Fund warned today.

In a process known as collocation, large private hospitals, usually corporately owned, are built on the grounds of existing public hospitals with minimum community debate as to the long term public benefit or costs.

“Our public hospitals are in decline. State Governments may find it very hard to resist handing over public hospital assets at reduced prices to free themselves of electorally damaging public criticism of an overloaded public hospital system. The likely beneficiaries of this process will be the collocated private hospital” Dr Shepherd warned.

“It starts with the closure of beds and wards and ends up with the handing over of the management and assets of the public hospital to the corporate neighbour.”

“There is a strong possibility that the traditional role of the public hospital could disappear.”

At present, Sydney has three public hospital campuses which incorporate private hospitals, these include St Vincent’s in Darlinghurst, St George in Kogarah and the recently opened private hospital on the Prince of Wales grounds at Randwick.

Plans are also underway for collocations at the Royal North Shore, Royal Prince Alfred, Nepean, Westmead, Bankstown-Lidcombe, Lithgow and Armidale. Concord Hospital is also seeking permission from the NSW Department of Health to undertake a feasibility study in to the development of a collocated private hospital.

“Now is the time to establish some very clear rules, in legislation if necessary that enforces separation between the private and public hospital” Dr Shepherd said.