Organisationally, we have expanded by 25% due to the addition of three new hospitals to our group and we have also announced a significant change to our Pathology division.
These changes have occurred against a backdrop of the federal election and ongoing fiscal pressures on the health care industry as global markets continue to be unstable and, domestically, economic growth is sluggish.
Growth and expansion
A high point in 2015/16 was the opening of St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals, a public private partnership with the State Government of Western Australia, on time and within budget, in November 2015. This was the culmination of five years of outstanding work from bid to build, led by our Group Chief Executive Officer, Dr Michael Stanford, and a significant milestone for our organisation.
In addition to St John of God Midland Public Hospital, St John of God Health Care entered into a public private partnership with the State Government of New South Wales in October 2015 and took over the management of Hawkesbury District Health Service in western Sydney from Catholic Healthcare Limited.
St John of God Health Care has a long history of partnering with state and federal governments to provide health and disability services in Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, but the opening of St John of God Midland Public Hospital and the transfer of management of Hawkesbury District Health Service, two major public private partnerships, mark a significant step forward in our goal to play a bigger role in the provision of public health and meeting community need.
St John of God Health Care has continued to invest significantly in redevelopments at our existing hospitals and other facilities to ensure we continue to meet changing needs of the communities we serve.
While we completed a number of these in the last financial year, major redevelopments are still underway at several of our hospitals, including St John of God Murdoch Hospital, St John of Bendigo Hospital, St John of God Geelong Hospital and at St John of God Berwick Hospital where we have partnered with Generation Healthcare REIT, in an innovative funding model. The Board encourages our divisions to look proactively at our facilities to ensure they offer our patients and clients the best possible environment to receive care.
Changes to Pathology
In 2016, after significant discernment, the Board approved the sale of St John of God Pathology to Australian Clinical Laboratories (Clinical Labs).
As health care becomes increasingly specialised, we have determined that our core strength and Mission should be in the delivery of hospital services.
St John of God Health Care will acquire a minority shareholding in Clinical Labs as part of the sale, which includes a board position that will be filled by St John of God Health Care Group Chief Executive Officer Dr Michael Stanford.
The sale is subject to certain approvals but is expected to go through in the first half of 2016/17.
Our social justice agenda focuses on Aboriginal Reconciliation and disability advocacy. We have made good progress with both, commencing work on a new Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan in the past twelve months, strengthening our advocacy for employment of people with a disability and reviewing, in our acute hospitals, the patient experience of those who have a severe or profound disability.
We also made a number of changes to our outreach services for families experiencing the effects of post-natal depression, and youth at risk of homelessness in Western Australia and Victoria, that will allow us to reach more people and provide more services.
The focus for the next twelve months will be on overseeing the consolidation and strengthening of our newly opened and acquired hospitals, and overseeing the proposed sale of our pathology division.
We are continuing to look to the future in terms of ensuring the organisation is responding to the growing role of technology in health care and meets the highest standards of clinical excellence.
As the steady squeeze on health care funding continues and in the face of an ageing demographic, increasing demand for services and low growth, the St John of God Health Care Board will continue to oversee financial stewardship and ensure costs are well-managed while we invest for the future.
In the meantime, our focus continues to be on the people to whom we provide care – to patients, to clients, to their families and loved ones - and on the communities in which we operate. While we look to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century with twenty-first century solutions, we will make sure that we don’t lose sight of the human response that is essential in providing health care.
I would like to end by thanking my fellow board members for their continued hard work and all our caregivers, doctors, allied health professionals, and volunteers who continue to respond to the needs of the communities where we operate.
Tony Howarth AO