News State Western Australia News Abortion patients ‘shunted’

Abortion patients ‘shunted’

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A Catholic health provider that will run a new hospital in Perth says the move to have “restricted procedures” such as abortions done at a separate facility was the government’s decision.

The West Australian government chose St John of God Health Care to operate the Midland Health Campus partly because its tender was $1.5 billion cheaper than others.

But religious beliefs prevent it doing procedures such as abortions and vasectomies, so those will be performed at a separate facility.

The opposition suggested in parliament on Wednesday that the patients were being shunted to “the corner of a car park”, and some callers on talkback radio questioned why a Catholic health provider had been selected to operate a mainly public hospital if it was not prepared to offer the full range of services.

But St John of God Health Care group chief executive Michael Stanford said the decision to build a stand-alone clinic was “the state’s decision”.

And the health provider had warned four years ago it was not prepared to provide some services.

“We made it clear at the very outset of the bidding process,” Dr Stanford told ABC radio.

“The state government said, ‘It’s not an issue’.

“It is not our preference that there is any sort of separate stand-alone clinic.”

Only a small number of patients would be inconvenienced, he said.

“You’re talking about one patient per day, maximum.”

Premier Colin Barnett said he did not know about the issue until it became public.

Other big hospitals in Sydney and Melbourne had similar arrangements for abortions and vasectomies.

“While there’s been some debate about it, I’m quite confident at the end of the day it will be fine,” he told Fairfax radio on Thursday.

Health Minister Kim Hames said the cost of building the separate clinic was “nowhere near” the savings made by picking the cheapest provider.

The hospital will have more than 300 public beds and 60 private beds.

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