Canberra’s only palliative care centre, Clare Holland House, will also be taken over by the ACT Government.
Calvary national chief executive Martin Bowles said the decision had been made with “a heavy heart” on the Catholic health care organisation’s part after an agreement was reached with the ACT Government.
The decision follows the government’s surprise move to compulsorily acquire the Calvary Public Hospital at Bruce last month.
Clare Holland House opened at its Grevillea Park site in 2001 and Calvary has been offering palliative care services in the ACT since 1995.
There has been uncertainty about how palliative care services at the Catholic-operated facility would proceed if voluntary assisted dying (VAD) is legislated in the Territory, although it’s understood the hospice was working towards a model for how VAD could be managed without taking responsibility for the procedure.
“In our view, Clare Holland House is not a separate service and patient care is our priority,” Mr Bowles said, noting the decision had been made “reluctantly”, but without any other feasible options. The takeover will happen next week.
Clare Holland House includes a 19-bed inpatient unit, a Specialist Community Palliative Care Service and the Calvary Centre for Palliative Care Research.
“Calvary and the ACT Government have mutually agreed the future of Clare Holland House and access to public palliative care services in the Territory is best supported by remaining directly connected with the public hospital to ensure continuity of care for patients needing public palliative care services,” Calvary national chief executive Martin Bowles said in a statement today (26 June).
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the decision followed extensive discussions between the ACT Government and Calvary Health Care.
“The ACT Government and Calvary have worked together to understand the complexities of Clare Holland House and its existing connections with Calvary Public Hospital Bruce,” she said.
“We recognise this has been a difficult decision for Calvary, and that it has been made to preserve the nation-leading integrated care model for both inpatients and outpatients.
“This is a model of care that has been highly valued by patients, families and staff since home-based services were moved to Clare Holland House.”
Canberra Health Services said it would now work with Calvary to ensure a smooth and safe transition of services with the aim of minimising disruption for staff, patients and carers as much as possible.
Clare Holland House staff will be invited to transition their employment to Canberra Health Services.
“Our commitment to Clare Holland House team members is that they will be able to continue doing the same job, in the same team, with the same manager on the same pay and conditions,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.
“I thank Calvary for the support and care they have provided to people with life-limiting illness in the ACT and our surrounding region over the last 28 years.
“The Canberra community is rightly proud of the compassion, excellence and innovation that underpins the services delivered every day at Clare Holland House.”