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To: Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt, Australian National University
Save the ANU health service!
In light of the recent announcement that the National Health Co-op has gone into voluntary administration, we call on the Australian National University to take over the running of its ANU clinic.
ANU’s health service used to be run directly by the university until it was outsourced to the Co-op in 2017. Outsourcing was justified at the time with a promised expansion of services that has never eventuated. The experience at ANU has been a disaster for staff and patients.
Why is this important?
This has been part of a broader trend of universities outsourcing the provision of services to external companies at a lower cost, usually involving an attack on workers’ wages and conditions. With the potential collapse of the Co-op imminent, it’s possible that its ANU clinic will be taken over by another external company. This is no solution for staff or patients.
Despite being a registered charity, the Co-op has had to compete with private billing clinics. It’s inability to do so is what has thrown the future of its staff and the patients who rely on its services up in the air. Unless the ANU steps in to run the service directly there’s nothing to stop this from happening again.
Seeing a doctor is already more expensive in Canberra than almost anywhere else in Australia. Canberra has the lowest bulk-billing rate of any electorate in the country, with only 32% of patients having their GP appointments bulk-billed - well below the national average of 86.2%. Canberrans also pay higher out-of-pocket costs at mixed-billing clinics.
Free, accessible healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. Let’s end the outsourcing of vital university services.