Doctors Call For Tabling Of Collocation Contracts Following Prediction Of Public Hospital Sell-off – 22 May 1998

All contracts, agreements, and relevant documentation relating to the sale or leasing of public hospital land or facilities to private hospital operators (a process known as collocation) should be tabled in State Parliaments as a matter of urgent public interest.

This call for public disclosure of collocated public hospital contracts and agreements was made in Sydney today by the Australian Doctors’ Fund following revelations in the Australian Financial Review (20 May 1998) of a widespread plan to sell hospitals, including public hospitals, into property trusts. This plan could also pave the way for overseas ownership and control of public hospitals, Executive Director of the Australian Doctors’ Fund, Mr Stephen Milgate said.

“The first trusts were likely to come from properties owned by private hospital operators but State Governments would become increasingly attracted because of the need to gather funds to upgrade ageing hospitals.” (Hospital trusts next by Simon Evans, Australian Financial Review 20 May 1998)

National Lead Partner of KPMG’s Health Care Division, Kath Schofield, has also been reported as confirming the attractiveness of collocated public and private hospitals for hospital trust conversion. “They will be the blockbusters” (Kath Schofield, National Lead Partner of KPMG’s Health Care Division, Hospital trusts next by Simon Evans, Australian Financial Review 20 May 1998)

Federal Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, has also signaled a move by private hospital owners into owning and operating public hospitals. “Federal Health Minister Dr Michael Wooldridge said he anticipated a greater move by governments to incorporate the private sector into owning and operating public health facilities” (Australian Doctor 15 May 1998)

“The real question in all of this is who is likely to benefit commercially from the sale of public hospital assets and whether or not any windfall commercial advantage from the selloff has been or will be conferred on any party by the granting of the contract to collocate” said Mr Milgate.

“Governments have opposed any public disclosure of public hospital collocation agreements with private operators on the grounds that it is commercial in-confidence. Freedom of Information legislation does not apply to this area. It is high time that the public was fully informed about the future of public hospital assets” said Mr Milgate.