The formal transition of Calvary Public Hospital Bruce to the ACT Government can officially begin, with the Territory ready to “get on with the job”.
Calvary Health Care attempted to have the Act on which the compulsory acquisition is possible ruled as invalid, along with certain sections within the legislation; however, this was dismissed by the ACT Supreme Court on Friday (9 June) afternoon.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said this meant the Territory could begin the transition process as outlined in sections 11, 12 and 13 of the act, which were also found by the court to be valid.
“So those sections require Calvary to provide certain information, enable Territory officials to enter the Calvary Public Hospital Bruce land, and importantly require both the Territory and Calvary to cooperate in the smooth transition of services from Calvary Health Care to Canberra Health Services,” she said.
“We need to progress with this transition.”
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean Territory boots will be on Calvary Public Hospital Bruce land on Tuesday (13 June), as part of the act also stipulates that the Territory must provide notice around proposals for officials to come on site.
So that will need to be the next step before a physical presence appears at the hospital.
“We will be establishing support services and an information booth for staff on site, whether that happens on Tuesday or slightly later, we’ll work through that with Calvary,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
“What we want to do is to work as collaboratively with them as possible.”
Northside Hospital Transition Team deputy director general Cathie O’Neill said her team expected to formalise a transition plan with Calvary early next week, once the organisation had nominated its transition head.
“I look forward to being able to sit down with the Calvary executive and working through exactly what we need to do before the third of July, acknowledging that much of the transition can occur past that acquisition date,” she said.
“We would have much preferred to have been able to start at the beginning of this week, but we have continued to do work in the back end.”
The regulation associated with the act is still subject to further legal proceedings, but it won’t impact the transition process.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the 3 July acquisition date was still firmly locked in.
“The regulations primarily set out arrangements for the settling of just terms and some details that are not vital for the commencement of the formal transition process,” she said.
“This has been a delay of a week that we would have preferred not to have, but we certainly are confident that, from here on, if the transition process progresses the way it should under the act, we will be able to meet that third of July deadline.
“So I guess my message to Calvary would be that this act is now in force, we now have the opportunity to work cooperatively together.”
Calvary has the option to launch an appeal against the Supreme Court’s decision, but for now the act stands as law.
Ms Stephen-Smith said she hoped Calvary would choose to cooperate with the Territory to cut down on any further uncertainty.
“The act remains in place and it remains valid, and we would expect that Calvary would comply with its legal obligations under the act,” she said.
“We want to reduce that uncertainty as much as possible by getting on with the job and entering into this transition period.”
Ms Stephen-Smith said it was important to maintain the relationship with Calvary as much as possible, as it would remain a player in the ACT healthcare space through its private hospitals, aged-care facilities and Clare Holland House.
She acknowledged the court decision on Friday didn’t make it any clearer to Clare Holland House staff what would happen with them, but that the Government was having those conversations with Calvary as quickly as it could.
“We will also work as quickly as possible with Calvary to come to a final decision on the future operation of Clare Holland House and the associated palliative care services,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
“I am conscious that Clare Holland House staff continue to face uncertainty, but I can assure them that our conversations with Calvary reflect the feedback that we have already heard and we will engage with them directly as soon as possible.”