The state government is negotiating a contract with St John of God Health Care to operate the new Midland health campus, but the organisation's Catholic values mean that certain procedures won't be offered
Kim Snowball, executive director of the WA Health Department, says St John of God Health Care (SJOG) is the preferred tendered and negotiations with the organisation to run the new hospital (due to open in 2015) are in the final stages.
Mr Snowball said SJOG made it clear from the beginning that it could not provide some procedures, including abortion, sterilisation, or contraception.
"They were very clear with the department up-front that they would not be in a position to provide a number of services so we had a choice then as to whether to continue with contract negotiations."
"We made the judgement that we could provide those services in other hospitals."
"The vast majority of these are planned procedures so they can be referred to other services quite easily. They are a very small number; we're looking at it being 250 of the 29,000 patients we are expecting in the first year at the Midland health campus."
Martin Laverty, CEO of Catholic Health Australia, says that although it's new for WA, Catholic-run public hospitals have operated successfully for 190 years in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
"Communities, clinicians and patients come to understand that Catholic hospitals do provide a range of excellent health care services, but we don't provide reproductive services," Mr Laverty says.
"We are quite clear that within Catholic hospitals there is not a position for Catholic services to provide reproductive services or advice."
"As the hospital is designed within its part of the West Australian health system that communities, clinicians and patients, as they have in the eastern states, will become aware of what the hospital can provide, and what it can't, because of its ethical framework."
Terry O'Gorman, president of the Australian Council of Civil Liberties, says that even if only 250 patients a year can't be treated at the Midland campus, a the secular principle in public services has been compromised.
"We think there's a strong argument based on the importance of separating church and state for public tax payer money not to be made available for Catholic and other religious organisations that will not carry out these services."
"But if public tax payer money is to be paid then the West Australian government must bite the bullet and make it a condition of any contract with St John of God or any other religious group that where a doctor or nurse cannot in conscience carry out an abortion or allied service they must be required to make an effective referral elsewhere."
"In emergency situations, it should be part of the contract that the rights of the patient come first."
Martin Laverty referred the ABC to the Catholic Health Australia website for detailed information on what treatments were excluded by Catholic teaching.
Included in the organisation's code of ethical standards is a direction that "Catholic facilities should not provide, or refer for, abortions."
Kim Snowball says that the Health department has "very clear protocols around when you refer to other services to ensure that safety, quality and access is preserved."
Martin Laverty says that in Catholic hospitals, "the rule that operates where a woman presents in an emergency situation where the mother's life is at risk is that clinicians must act to save lives. Catholic teaching says that there must be no support of abortion but the overriding guideline is that clinicians must act to save lives."
The Opposition's Health spokesman, Roger Cook, has called on the state government to abandon negotiations with SJOG.
"It's not good enough for the minister to impose, by proxy, particular religious views on what sort of services are provided at Midland Hospital," he said.
"This is the consequence of privatisation and it's a very poor outcome for the people of Midland and surrounding districts."
I think this is disgusting! What are your thoughts?
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17-04-2012 19:26 #1
Public money, private faith: debate of religious operator at new public hospital
17-04-2012 19:28 #2
Could a mod do a poll?
Should government funding finance a new private hospital which won't provide some women's services? Yay or nay. Cheers
17-04-2012 20:30 #3-
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
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im wondering how many people go to a hospital for an abortion or contraception? surely youd go to a clinic (marie stopes is down the road) or your gp for those thing?
17-04-2012 20:45 #4
From what I understand is that tenders were put in from other companies?? so its the state govt's decision to award the contract.. right?
Are there not other tenders for hte state govt to choose from? I can see its the preferred tender but its up to the govt to decide what it wants to spend its money on.
There is an amazing catholic public hospital in brissy called Mater and has a few others Mater public mothers/mater mothers private/mater private/mater childrens.
I have no issues with a catholic group being awarded a tender if they have stated from the get go what their policy is. they are not hiding anything are they?
I'm sorry thermy but I dont understand the issue here? gov'ts award contracts/tenders all the time - defence/agriculture/industry etc
18-04-2012 06:23 #5
Not every hospital provides every service - even (or especially) the government run ones.
Katoomba regularly closes maternity without warning booked-in mothers.
Springwood doesn't have an emergency department.
Nepean A&E says they don't treat people with quadriplegia - and backed up that statement with inaction.
So long as they attempt to transfer people to an appropriate hospital or service, then what's the new problem?
18-04-2012 06:42 #6
On my phone so i can't answer the poll.
Abortion and contraception I understand. A public hospital is unlikely to offer this anyway. An abortion, unless medically necessary which the article says must be performed, is elective surgery (which we know has huge wait times) so a public hospital just won't have the time to complete them.
Similarly, a hospital is not a GP clinic. You don't show up to discuss a cold, an ear infection or contraception. For these two things there are very acceptable alternatives.
Sterilization, particularly having your tubes tied, is the real issue. In my home town, both our private hospitals are catholic and they will not perform sterilization. A friend of mine had an elective cesarean and had her tubes tied in the process while one of the hospitals was still non-denominational. Since the Catholics purchased it that same operation would not be allowed. I don't think it's acceptable when people are paying private health insurance and the only other alternative is a public hospital where you will be waiting a lot longer for elective surgery.
18-04-2012 07:23 #7Senior Member
- Join Date
- May 2008
It doesn't bother me. As PP said, not all hospitals offer all services anyway and there are other places patients can go for these things. I would have an issue if it was say, Darwin hospital, as it's the only hospital in the area. But a place like Perth is different and it works fine in other big cities. Also the Govt knew these restrictions before they made the decision, si obviously they were the best tender, despite not offering these services.
18-04-2012 08:08 #8
Hmm, I don't think it is entirely acceptable IMO. Especially if it is a public hospital - and they say they won't do referrals to other services because that would be a breach of their ethics too. They won't provide the services & they won't give you any help in finding them either.
Contraception - ok, that is really from a GP.
Abortion, Sterilization & Fertility Services... I imagine you would need a referral from a GP first but by not providing those services there, it is going to put more strain on other health providers. Considering waiting lists for electives can be horrific already... 250 patients doesn't sound like alot but I imagine on a strained public system that is 250 too many.
And it's public taxpayer money so it should be used to provide services that the public needs. And they did expect there would be a need for reproductive services there, so IMO it isn't fair on the public for that need to be denied. If SJOG isn't prepared to offer the services required, then they should not have been considered. We have separation of church & state for this reason - so that public interest is not affected by religious restrictions.
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