Health economists and experts also query the way the new enterprise appears to be “cherry-picking the private sector” by targeting the easiest operations.
The newcomer’s 25 shareholders are all specialist surgeons – absorbing every urologist in Christchurch, half of the city’s orthopaedic surgeons and most of its ear, nose and throat specialists, The Press understands.“We are all waiting to see what will happen.” Forte Health chairman David Barker said the hospital had grown out of the earthquake-damaged Oxford Clinic and that it would be “replacing and enhancing competition” in the private market that was lost as a result of the quake. dating for par Silkeborg Forte surgeons would continue to operate in the public sector and at the city’s other two private hospitals, he said.Southern Cross Hospitals chief operating officer Tau-Loon Ho said there had been recent increases in specialist owned short-stay clinics aimed at providing less complex care, but “what is concerning is the increasingly high cost of simple procedures being undertaken by many of these facilities”.Academic Dr Michael Gousmett, who is an expert on charitable hospitals, said Forte would also put pressure on the public sector by “spreading our surgeons too thinly on the ground”.
No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood
The shareholder-surgeons were aware of their ethical responsibilities and would only direct patients toward Forte “if their surgery is suited to that environment”, Barker said.Ian Powell, a senior doctors’ spokesman speaking in a personal capacity, said Forte was defining a niche within the market by targeting less complex surgeries, but “if I was in St George’s chair, I would see that as cherry-picking”.Yet, CDHB chief executive David Meates said the establishment of Forte Health would not have any significant impact on the public sector.The new hospital is expected to open on January 20. It is the lull before the storm for Christchurch’s private-health sector.“The challenge from our perspective is that as surgeons they can direct patients to their hospital and so it is a real risk for us,” he said.
Auckland University health economist Professor Toni Ashton said if a patient goes to a Forte surgeon for a consultation “of course they are going to direct them into their business, they are the shareholders for goodness sake”.
The three-storey hospital will have 14 patient beds, four operating theatres and in excess of 100 staff and clinicians.
It is the most competitive beast to enter Christchurch’s private-health sector and, with the countdown on for open day, the city’s two existing private hospitals, St George’s and Southern Cross, are starting to sweat.
The newcomer will soak up hundreds of surgeries and million of dollars of revenue from their books.
Forte is less than two months off opening and questions have started to circle on the ethics of a private hospital owned entirely by surgeons who will have a vested interest in directing patients toward their hospital for financial gain.