THE END: Gympie Private Hospital will close at the end of next month, it was announced yesterday.
THE END: Gympie Private Hospital will close at the end of next month, it was announced yesterday. Troy Jegers

Blame game for our sick hospital

"IT'S not us, it's them,” state and federal government representatives said about each other yesterday.

They were responding to news of the imminent closure of Gympie Private Hospital.

Acting Queensland Health Minister Mark Bailey said the closure was part of "a trend of private health providers closing or reducing services in Queensland.”

He said Queensland was seeing an increase in patients shifting from private health insurance "because they can't afford it or there are too many exclusions.

"Some people with insurance are even choosing the public system,” he said.

Federal Wide Bay MP, Llew O'Brien, on the other side of politics, said the decision was "a disaster for the Gympie community.”

He accused the public hospital system of "cannibalising private hospitals” by taking paying private patients, causing strain on their health insurance and overloading the public system's waiting times.

He said Labor plans for the private health insurance sector would make things worse.

The hospital's private owner, Health Care Australia, said the hospital was simply unable to achieve viability, largely because of "external influences” such as medical staff shortages, growing competition in nearby areas and a need for major capital improvements.

"Health care will wind down, with a closure on February 28,” the representative said.

The Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union said the hospital employed about 80 staff, including 30 union members.

"We understand the sudden closure is extremely upsetting to the staff and the local community,” acting secretary Sandra Eales said.