No plan to na­tion­alise pri­vate hospi­tals in wake of coron­avirus

Pretoria News - - BUSINESS REPORT - DINEO FAKU [email protected]

THE NA­TION­AL­I­SA­TION of JSE-listed hos­pi­tal groups was not on the cards in the face of the spread of the coron­avirus, but pri­vate hospi­tals would work with the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide beds if needed, the De­part­ment of Health said yes­ter­day.

South Africa’s big three hos­pi­tal groups are Net­care, the Life Health­care Group and Medi­clinic South­ern Africa, which is a di­vi­sion of Medi­clinic In­ter­na­tional.

De­part­ment of Health spokesper­son Popo Maja said in an in­ter­view with Busi­ness Re­port yes­ter­day that the gov­ern­ment was not look­ing to na­tion­alise pri­vate hospi­tals be­cause of the epi­demic.

“There is a way we can work with the pri­vate sec­tor if we need to ac­cess their fa­cil­i­ties. We are not con­sid­er­ing the na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of pri­vate hospi­tals at all. When­ever there is an out­break, pri­vate hospi­tals are will­ing to work with us to pro­vide beds in hospi­tals when we have emer­gen­cies. They are will­ing to work with us,” Maja said.

After the Span­ish gov­ern­ment moved on Mon­day to na­tion­alise all pri­vate hospi­tals and health­care providers as the coun­try grap­pled to ar­rest the spread of the virus, spec­u­la­tion has arisen whether this could hap­pen in South Africa.

Spain has the sec­ond most in­fec­tions in Europe, at about 11 178, after Italy, which has about 31 506.

Anchen Laub­scher, a group med­i­cal di­rec­tor of Net­care, said the group was com­mit­ted to of­fer­ing support to the De­part­ment of Health and the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases.

“Dis­cus­sions are tak­ing place be­tween the pri­vate hospi­tals and the De­part­ment of Health re­gard­ing all as­pects of man­ag­ing the Covid-19 pan­demic,” Laub­scher said, adding that it was pre­ma­ture to an­swer whether pri­vate hospi­tals would be na­tion­alised.

“All Covid-19 pa­tients re­quir­ing hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion are ad­mit­ted to the ap­pro­pri­ate fa­cil­ity with the au­tho­ri­sa­tion and full knowl­edge of the de­part­ment. We stand ready to as­sist the na­tional and pro­vin­cial de­part­ments of health wher­ever we can,” Laub­scher said.

The Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa (Hasa) said it was pre­ma­ture to talk about na­tion­al­is­ing pri­vate hospi­tals.

Mark Peach, a spokesper­son for Hasa, which rep­re­sents the own­ers and man­agers of most of South Africa’s pri­vate sec­tor hos­pi­tal beds, said the ad­mis­sion rate for the virus was low and there had been no deaths yet in South Africa.

“Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion, 85 per­cent of cases will not be ad­mit­ted and only 5 per­cent will be ad­mit­ted. In South Africa, we are nowhere near the in­fec­tion rate of Spain or Italy. It is too early to talk about the tra­jec­tory of the in­fec­tion,” Peach said.

Peach said the or­gan­i­sa­tion had been in con­stant talks with the pub­lic sec­tor since the coron­avirus was an­nounced late last year.

“Dis­cus­sions to na­tion­alise pri­vate hospi­tals were not on the ta­ble. Pri­vate sec­tor hospi­tals are al­ready help­ing in cer­tain re­spects – for ex­am­ple, in the track­ing of cases,” Peach said.

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