The National Government has today announced plans to introduce a number of charter hospitals, similar to their charter school counterparts, in major population centres around the country.
The hospitals, which would be owned, operated or sponsored by private enterprises, would dissociate themselves from the current public health system and not be required to follow the regulations that most health institutes are beholden to.
Charter hospitals would not have to produce evidence to support the treatments they provide, would not have to hire qualified doctors, surgeons or nurses, and would be largely immune from public inquiries such as official information requests.
The announcement was made today at a press conference held by Health Minister Tony Ryall, who said that the new hospitals would provide a way for poor families and their children to get quality health care at a low cost.
“Over the next two years, the Ministry of Health will be working with private companies and community organisations to establish a modest number of partnership hospitals around the country,” said Ryall. “These hospitals will seek to provide services to those patients who the current system has left behind.”
“Because of the high safety standard we demand in our public affairs, public hospitals are forced to waste a great deal of money on conducting internal reviews, hiring qualified staff and cleaning surgical equipment. Partnership hospitals, on the other hand, will be free to take their own approach, providing kiwis with choice and lowering costs for thousands of families who have traditionally been unable to afford care.”
Ryall assured reporters that while regulations would not be as strict as they are for public hospitals, the Government would institute some kind of a minimum standard.
“Contrary to what the Opposition will tell you, we are not going to let hospitals run roughshod over the health system by allowing them to hire just anyone,” he said. “We would expect doctors to have a PhD in at least something.”
He added that charter hospitals would have to demonstrate that their surgeons had used scissors “at least twice,” and fully completed popular video game Surgeon Simulator 2013, “including the secret level in outer space.”
Additionally, those hospitals would be required to have a working fleet of ambulances, where an ambulance is defined as a vehicle with a minimum of two wheels, and at least one emergency room, where an emergency room is not defined.
If the implementation of charter hospitals is successful, Ryall says he’ll consider taking a similar approach with his ministry, which he’s “getting kind of sick of, anyway.”