30 March 2020

The Morrison Government must act urgently to save one-third of Australia's intensive care unit (ICU) capacity.

One in three Australian ICU beds are in private hospitals. These beds and the doctors and nurses that staff them will be essential in Australia's fight against COVID-19.

But private hospitals are now warning that the lack of a national plan for COVID-19 services will force them to lay off staff, and even shut their doors, within days.

This follows the Government's botched implementation of an elective surgery shutdown - which was announced without consultation with hospitals or surgeons, and then pushed back a week.

The decision to delay non-urgent elective surgery is the right one. But this is yet another measure that has been undermined by a lack of clarity from the Government.

With non-urgent elective surgery now due to end next week, private hospitals need support to maintain staff until the COVID-19 peak, and a clear plan for their role when it hits.

Despite their best efforts today, Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt can't blame hospitals or states for this mess. The Commonwealth is responsible for private health, and national leadership is needed now more than ever.

Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt must step up - today - and announce how they are going to save one-third of Australia's ICU beds.