Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Right care, right place, right time: improving the timeliness of health care in New South Wales through a public–private hospital partnership

Carla Saunders A C and David J. Carter B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Health Services Management, Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Jones Street, Ultimo (PO Box 222), Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia.

B Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney, Quay Street, Ultimo (PO BOX 123), Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia. Email: david.carter@uts.edu.au

C Corresponding author. Email: carla.saunders@uts.edu.au

Australian Health Review 41(5) 511-518 https://doi.org/10.1071/AH16075
Submitted: 3 April 2016  Accepted: 2 August 2016   Published: 23 September 2016

Abstract

Objective The overall aim of the study was to investigate and assess the feasibility of improving the timeliness of public hospital care through a New South Wales (NSW)-wide public–private hospital partnership.

Methods The study reviewed the academic and professional grey literature, and undertook exploratory analyses of secondary data acquired from two national health data repositories informing in-patient access and utilisation across NSW public and private hospitals.

Results In 2014–15, the NSW public hospital system was unable to deliver care within the medically recommended time frame for over 27 400 people who were awaiting elective surgery. Available information indicates that the annual commissioning of 15% of public in-patient rehabilitation bed days to the private hospital system would potentially free up enough capacity in the NSW public hospital system to enable elective surgery for all public patients within recommended time frames.

Conclusions The findings of the study justify a strategic whole-of-health system approach to reducing public patient wait times in NSW and highlight the need for research efforts aimed at securing a better understanding of available hospital capacity across the public and private hospital systems, and identifying and testing workable models that improve the timeliness of public hospital care.

What is known about the topic? There are very few studies available to inform public–private hospital service partnerships and the opportunities available to improve timely health care access through such partnerships.

What does this paper add? This paper has the potential to open and prompt timely discussion and debate, and generate further fundamental investigation, on public–private hospital service partnerships in Australia where opportunity is available to address elective surgery wait times in a reliable and effective manner.

What are the implications for practitioners? The NSW Ministry of Health and its Local Health Districts have the potential to realise a key objective, namely to deliver the ‘right care, in the right place, at the right time’, through the core value of collaboration, using available infrastructure.

Additional keywords: integrated service delivery, quality of care, rehabilitation services.


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