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Health system 'has to engage more with private sector'

QUEENSLAND'S health workforce would likely increase under a private outsourcing system but Health Minister Lawrence Springborg could not rule out lower pay.

"There are different awards and different conditions," he said.

"The important thing to remember is that there are many people who work in the private and not-for-profit system at the moment who are very happy with their employment.

"In Queensland, some 53% of the 65,000 nurses employed in this state are actually employed in the private and not-for-profit sector.

"The health system in the future has to be prepared to engage more with the private and the not-for-profit sector.

"We'll be accelerating with more partnerships now with the private sector."

Mr Springborg, ahead of his much-lauded health blueprint announcement on Wednesday, said his government had the Sunshine Coast University Hospital in its sights as it tried to increase "efficiency" in the public hospital system.

He said the new hospital would need an extra 2500 staff, principally nurses, when it came online in 2016 but it "doesn't really matter" whether the State Government or the private sector employed them.

"Our proposal is to look at new opportunities such as the Sunshine Coast hospital, as we may do with the redevelopment of the Royal Children's Hospital, and how we can deliver whole new suites of public health services in Queensland efficiently," he said.

"We are keen to look at the Mater model and see if we can engage with an outside provider to actually deliver free hospital services for Queenslanders.

"So it's a work in progress but if you're going to resist these sorts of things then you're going to be left behind."
Queensland Health has a partnership with Mater Health Services where tax dollars are provided to care for public patients.

Mr Springborg said concerns they did not report their waiting lists or other data would be covered through new contracts requiring that information to be "accessible and reportable" for comparison with other hospitals.

Shadow Health Minister Jo-Ann Miller slammed the LNP's decision to hold its health blueprint announcement at a $1900 a table party event.

She said people in Bundaberg were still reeling from flood events and Gympie, Lockyer Valley and Ipswich were concerned about fresh flooding issues this week.

Ms Miller called on the LNP to prove the health announcement was not a "fundraiser" by donating all profits to the Red Cross disaster appeal.

"It is extraordinary that the LNP has found a way to turn the government's mass sackings and savage cuts to frontline services into a cash cow, by bragging about their efforts at a five-star hotel and charging people for the privilege," she said.

Together union secretary Alex Scott said the Queensland health sector was bracing for "a tidal wave of privatisation" as the government sought to make itself unaccountable for service failures.

He said privatisation meant the government could blame multi-national companies for failures instead of its own funding cuts.

"This government needs to understand whether hospitals are privatised or not, health workers will always do what is best for patients," he said.

"But under a privatised system we know that health management will be about delivering profits, not delivering patients."

Topics:  health, lawrence springborg


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