The Australian Private Hospitals Association’s (APHA) new President has pledged to continue working closely with government in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Lachlan Henderson, elected to replace Danny Sims, said 2020 had been a tumultuous year for everyone, particularly for those in healthcare.
“It’s been a difficult year for everyone in healthcare, and we now have an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve done well and what we can do better.
“The private and public sectors have worked together really well, particularly here in Victoria,” said Dr Henderson, who is Group Chief Executive of Epworth HealthCare.
“There were already elements of that (co-operation) but this year, it’s been more about looking after unwell patients. For example in aged care, we were able to really mobilise our staff and get into those facilities to help.”
Dr Henderson said it was now time to unite private hospitals again.
“Primarily, we’re here for private patients, and we represent private hospitals, although of course healthcare is for everyone.
“Looking forward to the next six to 12 months, I think private hospitals have a role to play in taking on surgery waiting lists,” he said.
“The public hospital waiting list, which was already significant in most states, has been exacerbated by COVID and private hospitals have a role to play there in doing more and getting that elective surgery list down.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing a focus on how healthcare is managed around the world, Dr Henderson said the Australian system had coped well with the extra pressures.
“In terms of access to health around the world, Australia really stacks up pretty well.
“The dual system we have works very well and our job is to ensure private insurance remains at a healthy rate,” he said.
“In the 1990s, before some government intervention to make private health more attractive, we had a drop in that, but we really do rely on a healthy percentage of the population being privately insured.”
Looking ahead, Dr Henderson said private patient outcomes were paramount to everything the APHA does.
“The APHA needs to work with our partners – with private health insurers, government, with suppliers, device makers, the pharmaceutical industry – to ensure the best patient outcomes,” he said.
“I think COVID proved that our healthcare workers really stepped up and became a great part of the Australian landscape and the community. And we want to continue to attract the brightest and best into a career in healthcare.”
Having served as APHA Vice-President for two years, Dr Henderson said he was delighted to take the next step up.
“It’s an honour to be elected and to be acknowledged by the Board and the people you work with,” he said.
APHA CEO, Michael Roff, welcomed Dr Henderson to his new role.
“Lachlan has already made a significant contribution to the APHA as Vice-President and we look forward to continuing our work with him in this new role.
“He has considerable experience in healthcare in Australia – as a practitioner and a health executive – and brings his broad knowledge to the Board.”