To the Sunraysia Community
Feb 28, 2019
As the very public debate over the continued management of Mildura Base Hospital heightens, I feel it is important to set the record straight on Ramsay Health Care’s management of the hospital for nearly two decades and dispel a myth that services will suddenly improve under State management.
Mildura Base Hospital (MBH) is the most remote hospital of its size in Victoria and in a region of high disadvantage. Our charter is to deliver public health services against a formula that applies to all public hospitals in the State. Throughout our tenure, Ramsay Health Care has demonstrated delivery of quality acute care services, within budget, in a uniquely challenged environment.
MBH’s access level, service level and clinical performance undergo the same scrutiny and benchmarking from the State as all other publicly managed facilities. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Safer Care Victoria (SCV) have recently confirmed they have no safety concerns regarding MBH. Hospital management is also accountable to another layer of robust clinical governance, under the Ramsay quality framework, often over and above DHHS measures.
Under Ramsay’s management the hospital is required to meet the same clinical staff to patient ratios as all other Victorian public hospitals, outlined in the relevant public EBA’s and Safe Patient Care Act. Hospital management works collaboratively with line managers, union representatives and the ANMF to ensure staffing levels meet or exceed these ratios daily.
In addition, Ramsay Health Care has managed the hospital within funding constraints for the entire time of its operation. The State sets our patient activity targets each year and allocates funding according to that. While we have lobbied consistently on behalf of the community for funding for new, enhanced and additional services, on no occasion have we burdened the State with requesting additional funding to meet those annual patient activity targets. The same cannot be said for most public hospitals.
Ramsay Health Care has been an Australian-based healthcare company for over 50 years. It has its roots in regional and rural Australia and today operates over 30 hospitals in rural and regional communities, demonstrating a unique commitment and a deep understanding of the challenges facing these areas. In Mildura, and despite our remoteness, we have proven our ability to attract and retain staff, doctors and a skilled and stable executive workforce. Other regional health services have had significant difficulties in this area over the same time period.
Our hospital has an enabled and engaged workforce and a strong safety culture. Our staff of more than 700 local people are doing their best to provide essential and valued services. Our management team are not faceless bureaucrats from Sydney. We are all embedded members of
this community. Our family and extended family live here, some for generations. We have elderly
parents, young children, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents all living in Sunraysia. We therefore
each have a very real and personal incentive to ensure the best health care possible in Mildura and
to compromise that is simply not an option.
Continual quality improvement and expansion of services is our absolute priority. At the same time,
we are able to sustain a modest profit through very sound financial management ensuring minimal
waste and the significant resources available to us through being part of the large and successful
company. Ramsay operates 73 hospitals in Australia and 400+ hospitals worldwide, enabling well
established and expert resources at our finger tips at minimal cost.
MBH management and staff are proud of our commitment to improving and expanding health
services in Mildura, and our record of delivering on that promise. In the past five years alone, we
- Pioneered a critical care telehealth service in 2017, using state of the art technology in
partnership with Intensivist Specialists at The Alfred, preventing the need to transfer some
of our most sick patients to Melbourne. Safer Care Victoria are so impressed, they are
funding this initiative to be scaled out to other public regional health services.
- Doubled the size of our hospital Chemotherapy services through infrastructure expansion
and successful recruitment and retention of a permanent Oncology Specialist in Mildura
since 2013 (previously the region relied on generalists or fly-in, fly-out specialists).
- Expanded our Emergency Department from 13 to 21 treatment spaces in 2015.
- Successfully lobbied for, established and operated headspace since 2015.
- Successfully lobbied for, built and established the 10-bed Prevention and Recovery Centre
(PARC) in 2017, a much needed residential mental health service.
- Attracted and retained a strong and growing workforce of senior doctors, providing hospital
services 24/7 across more than 10 speciality areas. All live and work in Mildura and are an
active part of our community.
- The expansion of Ramsay Specialist Clinic, now providing more than 16,000 consultations
annually over more than 10 speciality areas. Many of these speciality services were
previously not available in Mildura or only available via fly-in fly-out consultants.
- Built a new 30+ apartment block for doctors’ accommodation to help attract new doctors.
- Increased maternity services capacity by building an extra birth suite and expanding the
Special Care Nursery in 2015.
- Built an Aboriginal Healing Unit in 2016 to provide a safe and culturally sensitive space for
our indigenous community.
- Built a $4 million expansion of our Intensive Care Unit, using state of the art infrastructure
- Constructed a $2.3 million redesign of our Mental Health High Dependency Unit and
inpatient ward following advice from a State wide advisory group, allowing for the
contemporary care of our most acutely ill mental health patients.
- Secured $3.8 million for a new 8-bed dedicated paediatric ward (planning underway).
- Plans to expand our renal services under the leadership of our very experienced staff
- Plans to construct a new medical/surgical ward on site (there is space), subject to funding.
We provide over 100,000 occasions of service to members of our community each year and while
every hospital will, at times, not meet the expectations of all patients, any fair-handed assessment of
our performance and clinical measures show we perform at or above the level of our peer public
hospitals. In addition, the feedback our staff receive daily from patients is overwhelmingly positive.
We are proud of the achievements we have made through our own initiatives, by working alongside
other health providers and by partnering with the community. Ramsay has demonstrated its longterm
commitment to our community, and, with these achievements in mind, and the goals we have
for the future, the Mildura Base Hospital is in good hands under Ramsay Health Care management.