Victoria’s last remaining privately operated, state-owned hospital will be returned to public management.
The Victorian government will regain full control of Mildura Base Hospital (MBH) after its contract with for-profit company Ramsay Health Care expires in September next year.
The news comes almost four months after a government-commissioned survey revealed close to 90 per cent of Mildura residents wanted the publicly-funded hospital to be run by the state.
“This is finally a signal that we matter and a signal that we’re valued and we’re not second-class citizens of the state,” independent MP for Mildura Ali Cupper told The New Daily on Thursday.
In its transition to public management, the hospital will welcome new doctors, nurses, allied health and support staff.
Its operations will be overseen by a government-appointed board, and the community’s health care needs will be reassessed.
On Friday, the Andrews government will announce $1 million for a regional service plan, which will include a community consultative committee chaired by Ms Cupper.
“People’s safety was being undermined by a responsibility of a company to serve two masters, shareholders and patients,” Ms Cupper said.
“When you try and do that, something’s got to give and our community has been at risk for 20 years as a result of the profit imperative.”
The regional hospital has been allocated more than $124 million for the current financial year – a $7.56 million boost on the previous year.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the hospital will be returning “where it belongs”.
“The community has spoken, and we’ve listened,” he said in a statement.
Mr Andrews will join Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on Friday for the official announcement.
Ramsay Health Care had announced in April a 10-year plan to invest $13 million in the hospital.
But it has come under continued scrutiny for allegedly prioritising profits over patients.
In April, The New Daily revealed a stream of medical negligence allegations from patients, including claims of waking up during surgery, acquiring a permanently disfigured finger, losing a leg and being sent home with a kidney stone.
Former and current staff claimed patients were being unsafely discharged, given wrong prescriptions, subject to elective surgery cancellations, and the temporary shutdown of beds and birthing suites.
MBH chief executive Julia Morgan said Ramsay Health Care was “extremely disappointed” with news of the management change.
“We are very proud of the fact that after almost two decades of Ramsay management, there has not been any major quality, safety or performance issues,” Ms Morgan said in a statement.
The Kennett government privatised MBH in 1998, giving Ramsay Health Care management control since the hospital’s opening in 2000.
The hospital’s annual report revealed MBH made $2.7 million over the past financial year.