Insurer welcomes health review fast track

HEALTH insurer Medibank Private has welcomed Minister Sussan Ley’s fast-tracking of a national review which will improve patient safety in hospitals.

MEDIBANK chief executive George Savvides said the health minister’s announcement would “accelerate” the important debate around the quality and affordability of care in the private and public healthcare system.

Earlier on Saturday Ms Ley had weighed into a dispute between Medibank and hospital operator Calvary, warning them not to use patients as ransom in a cynical “Game of Thrones”.


The companies are at loggerheads after Medibank said it wanted to reduce or remove benefits to hospitals for a list of 165 events it says are “highly preventable”.


The minister hit out at “grandstanding” by both parties and announced she had fast-tracked a clinician-led national review to identify a list of high-priority complications in hospitals to improve patient safety.


The review, overseen by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, was due to be finalised in 2016 but will now be completed before the end of this year.


Mr Savvides said in a statement that “bringing the commission’s list forward to December will help create the momentum for all parties to get together and reach industry-wide agreement on this issue”.


“We have always been focused on patient outcomes and quality and if we don’t do something now, we run the risk of increasing costs and making private health insurance unaffordable for many Australians leaving the next generation with an unsustainable healthcare system,” he said.


Ms Ley said the list would provide clear guidance for hospitals on ways to improve medical systems and identify areas for improvement.


“If expediting this list helps improve patient safety faster, and in turn provides greater certainty and stability for the private hospital and health insurance sectors, then that’s a positive,” Ms Ley said.


“Hopefully it’ll also help end the current cynical Game of Thrones where certain private health insurers and hospitals are more focussed on painting each other as villains rather than supporting patients.”


She urged any patients unhappy with the current “tug-o-war” between Medibank and Calvary to “vote with their feet and find a better deal”.


Calvary chief executive Mark Doran also welcomed the fast-tracking of the government’s review.


“It clears the way for us to have some fruitful talks,” Mr Doran told AAP.