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 The many extracts on these pages are from copyright material. they are owned by the reference given or its owner. They are reproduced here for educational purposes and to stimulate public debate about the provision of health and aged care. I consider this to be "fair use" in the common interest. They should not be reproduced for commercial purposes. The material is selective and I have not included denials and explanations. I am not claiming that all of the allegations are true. The intention is to show the general thrust of corporate practices as well as the nature and extent of any allegations made.

The Knox Privatisation


It is clear from the reports that Knox is a growing area of Melbourne with a large aging population. There is a need for more public hospital services.

The reports suggest that in 1996/7 pressures were brought to bear on the Sisters of Charity to move the St Vincent hospital from the central city to Knox. The sisters wanted to stay in the city.

Knox was put on to the coalition governments privatisation list. There were plans to open a tertiary referral cardiac unit. The AMA were wary about the development of sophisticated units like this because of the poor performance of privatised public hospitals elsewhere.

The project did not get much priority and was put on hold by the coalition government in April 1999. By this stage the problems in privatisations were being realised. Enthusiasm was waning in government and in the marketplace. The Austin and Repatriation privatisation was in a mess and the Berwick privatisation was beginning to fall apart.

When labour gained power in 1999 it backed away from the privatisation of a new Knox public hospital. The new government was stretched in restoring services to the public systems and building the now publicly funded Austin and Repatriation complex. When in opposition labour had promised to build a public hospital in Knox. Instead they continued to back away from the hospital project. Not surprisingly the local community started pressing the government. The coalition parliamentarians, now in opposition seized the opportunity to attack the labour government and the minister.


References and Extracts

Ramsay Hitches His Star To The Public System, Business Review Weekly 24 March 1997
Ramsay is bidding for the 120-bed Veterans Affairs Hospital at Turramurra, Sydney. - - - - - - -In Victoria, under the state's new regional health plan, he would like to offer private services for public patients on new hospital sites including Knox and Berwick.

Health industry in the pink -- and the black, April 7, 1997 Financial Review
The Victorian Government has announced new hospitals will be built and/or run by private operators in Berwick, Knox and Epping.

Threat To Hospital's Viability Claimed, The Age (Melbourne) May 17, 1997
The State Government has been accused of threatening St Vincent's Hospital's viability by unrealistically limiting patient numbers.
He said Government authorities were "irked" that Mr Kennett had honored a contract with the hospital at Fitzroy rather than force it to move to Knox as proposed last year, so they had capped patient numbers "low enough to threaten (St Vincent's) existence".
Ms Cross's appointment as regional chief executive, which she took up last week, represents a significant softening by the Sisters of Charity on Knox. The Age revealed the possible move last July, but the then St Vincent's chief executive, Dr David Campbell, opposed a substantial move, arguing that the hospital had momentarily entertained the idea only under threat of a big cut in patient numbers.

Mayne Player Plans Hospital Spree, Australian Financial Review 18 October 1997
Other projects likely to be put out to tender this financial year in Victoria include the development of the Berwick Hospital, the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre in February, Knox Private Hospital and the privatisation of Mildura Base Hospital.

Hospitals may go to foreigners, The Age Melbourne 7 December 1997
The Austin Hospital is to be redeveloped on the large Heidelberg Repatriation site and the Knox Hospital will be on the old Wantirna cinema drive-in site.

Heart Units May Go Private: Report, The Age (Melbourne) July 1, 1998
Cardiac services at two public hospitals could be downgraded or transferred to a new privatised hospital in Melbourne's outer-east.

A leaked report reveals that the Inner and Eastern Health Care Network is considering transferring cardiac services from the Maroondah Hospital and the Angliss Health Service to the privatised Knox hospital when it is established in 2001, the Opposition said yesterday.

This is despite assurances by the Government that the privatised Knox hospital would not threaten existing services.
A vice-president of the Australian Medical Association (Victoria), Dr John Buntine, said yesterday that it would be safer for patients if a new cardiac centre was set up at Box Hill Hospital which had established infrastructure.

"It is more logical to start with lower-level services at the new hospital. No one knows how successful Knox will be," Dr Buntine said.

"What we have seen of hospitals of this type in other states is they have had a lot of problems," he said.

Signs are good for new Knox Hospital, Herald Sun September 28, 1998
On 28 September 1998, the Victorian Government minister for health, Rob Knowles, said that plans for a new hospital in Knox are underway. The Knox Hospital will be situated in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, and will be built and operated by the private sector. The projected opening date of the Knox Hospital is October 2001. Knowles said that the new Knox Hospital would operate in league with the existent Maroondah and Angliss Hospitals to provide an integrated network of services. A final decision on the preferred provider of the new Knox Hospital will be made in late 1999.

Knox Hospital Plans On Hold, The Age (Melbourne) April 22, 1999
A proposed new hospital in the eastern suburbs will not be built next year as planned, but the State Government has denied construction of the Knox hospital has been suspended indefinitely.
The Health Minister, Mr Rob Knowles, told Parliament yesterday Knox would be completed early next century, although under the original schedule, contracts were to be sealed by 1August 1999.

Labor's health spokesman, Mr John Thwaites, said the lack of response meant there was now real doubt about whether the Knox hospital would be built. Behind closed doors, Treasury officials are refusing to allow this project to go ahead because there is no funding to pay for the treatment of patients at Knox,'' Mr Thwaites said.

Healthy look at future, Knox News September 26, 2000
HEALTH services in Knox would struggle within 10 years with the demands of the municipality's ageing population, Knox Council says.

The council is pushing the importance of residents having their say about future health needs during the State Government's outer east health review.
"Our role is to sit back and look down the track and when you start doing that . . . our population is ageing and you start to realise that the services we have are not going to be able to cope. The present services won't serve this community."

Call for health feedback, Knox News October 3, 2000
A NINE-week review of health services in Melbourne's outer east was not sufficient to properly canvas the community's views, Knox councillors have said.

The council strongly pushed the importance of as many residents as possible attending a public meeting tonight at the Knox Civic Centre at 7.30pm about the State Government's Outer East Metropolitan Health Service planning review.
At last week's meeting, the council moved to advocate for the provision of a tertiary, high-level hospital in Knox to serve it and the surrounding community and to advise the State Government of its "disappointment regarding the consultation process".

Hospitals in crisis, Knox News October 17, 2000
FIGURES showing how often local hospitals had to turn away ambulance patients have highlighted the need for a Knox Hospital, according to local MPs.
Wantirna MP Kim Wells, Knox MP Hurtle Lupton and Bayswater MP Gordon Ashley have urged the Knox Public Hospital project be revisited as a priority.

Hospital crisis must end; Maroondah Mail October 31, 2000
THE demand for a tertiary hospital in the outer east has been overwhelming for some years now. Current services are struggling under the pressure to meet local health needs.
Sadly, the Knox Hospital was a casualty of the 1999 State election when the Labor Government rejected the proposal without community consultation.
I urge the Labor government to stop playing politics with patients' health and reconsider the Knox Hospital proposal.

Gordon Ashley, Bayswater State Liberal MP.

Public hospital; prospect hazy, Knox News August 21, 2001
BUILDING a public hospital in Knox does not appear to be on the State Government's agenda.

While the hospital site in Wantirna remains in public hands, Health Minister John Thwaites last week said the Government would look at options for the site.
In 1998, as Opposition health spokesman, Mr Thwaites said a future Labor Government would build a genuine public hospital in Knox. He told Knox Leader (May 26, 1998): "We believe a public hospital should be built in the outer east."

But he said last week that a new hospital could not be built without the closure or downsizing of existing public facilities.

Knox Hospital project needed, Knox News September 4, 2001
I AM writing in response to the article, "Public hospital prospect hazy" (Leader, August 21). The article indicated that the badly needed Knox Hospital project seems to be off the State Government's agenda.
The outer east is the size of Adelaide. Adelaide has seven public hospitals. The outer east has three. Our facilities are likely to remain inadequate while the Labor Government remains in office.

The reason is that the Government resists private sector involvement in the provision of health services. As a result, it won't be able to afford to fund more than one major project at any one time, such as the Austin redevelopment.

The demand for a major tertiary training hospital in the outer east is overwhelming.

Mayor pushes; for hospital, Knox Leader December 18, 2001
KNOX is in desperate need of a public hospital and the State Government should re-consider its stance on the issue, says Knox Mayor Garry Scates.
"I don't think much thought has been given to the ageing population and the demand on hospital services in the future, "Cr Scates said.

Premier Steve Bracks confirmed the hospital would not be built at the former Wantirna drive-in cinema site, a location earmarked by the State Government under former premier Jeff Kennett (Leader, June 5).
"The hospital was promised and Knox citizens expect the hospital to be built. The Knox community has missed out, but treatment like this will not go unforgotten.

"They said they would follow it through and they reneged on that. We have been let down yet again."

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This page created February 2002 by Michael Wynne