It has been a great pleasure for me to return to the St John of God Health Care Board as Chair and to work with Dr Shane Kelly, who was previously a CEO at St John of God Subiaco Hospital for more than eight years.
Athough both newly appointed to our current roles, Shane and I have a shared history at St John of God Health Care, which brings the benefits of continuity to the organisation and gives us a solid foundation on which to prepare for the future. Both of us chose to return because of the important work done by St John of God Health Care and our commitment to the Vision and the Values.
The 2017-18 year continued to present headwinds for the private healthcare industry, and St John of God Health Care’s continuing response is to focus on delivering high quality services to those seeking care and support, while containing costs at a time of slower private hospital revenue growth.
The relatively flat net result for the year is a creditable result given the external environment and reflects a prudent approach to stewardship. This will remain critical for the foreseeable future as we seek to ensure that our funds are directed first and foremost toward providing care and support to the community and that we have a sound moat to insulate us in the face of continued pressures on both government and private health insurance funding.
The two hospitals we operate as public private partnerships, St John of God Midland Public Hospital in Western Australia and Hawkesbury District Health Service in New South Wales, continued to grow and provide outstanding services to their respective communities in 2017-18. St John of God Health Care has a long history of partnering with state and federal governments to provide health and disability services. We see the provision of public health as an important part of our Mission to meet community need and our goal is to seek more opportunities to partner with governments, both state and federal.
Clinical performance and patient experience are foremost for the Board, building on the existing strong focus on caregiver safety initiated by the Board over the last few years. The focus on compassionate care that extends beyond the clinical experience is also an important recognition of the patients’ and clients’ emotional and other needs and how we can assist in helping those experiencing vulnerability beyond their healthcare needs to have access to truly person-centred care.
One of the guiding principles outlined for St John of God Health Care is social justice and the provision of services for those who are vulnerable, poor or marginalised. We have made very good progress in our social outreach and disability services, now operating under the umbrella of Community Services. These services have both undergone significant change in the past couple of years resulting in growth and the extension of our services in these key areas, greatly benefitting those to whom we provide services.
Good progress has also been made in the past year in advancing advocacy in social justice in the three key areas of disability access and inclusion; reconciliation; and asylum seeker and refugee engagement. This is an important part of our Catholic ministry.
Technology remains a key focus for the Board and technology has a growing role in healthcare as an enabler to help us focus on the highest standards of clinical excellence. Cyber security and patient privacy are clearly areas of importance for us both now and in the future.
The Board was pleased with the successful commissioning and opening of St John of God Berwick Hospital, a $120 million joint venture with Generation Healthcare REIT, which will provide enhanced and expanded services to the south‑east Melbourne community, close to home.
Although we will continue to redevelop our facilities in response to community need as required, and have a number of upgrades in the pipeline, the opening of St John of God Berwick Hospital marked the end of a significant phase of capital projects. As we continue to operate in a more challenging environment marked by slower growth, more commercially focused funders and greater competition, prudent financial stewardship is a clear priority.
Two other new members joined the Board in 2017‑18. James McMahon commenced in July 2017 and Adrian Arundel in February 2018. Together they bring excellent commercial experience across a range of industries and complement a committed and excellent Board. The Board is fortunate to have a great balance across healthcare, not‑for‑profit and other industries, which augurs well for the ability to continue to provide sound stewardship in a more challenging environment.
Our focus over the next twelve months will be on finalising and implementing actions identified under the Strategic Priorities and in our next five‑year Strategic and Business Plan. The Board will continue to focus on oversight of clinical risk and excellence, and compassionate and excellent patient care. We will continue to provide palliative care and to advocate for more places for those who would benefit from access to palliative care.
I would like to pay particular tribute to my predecessor, Mr Tony Howarth AO, for his leadership as Chairman for 14 years. His knowledge and experience is hard to replace. I would also like to thank incoming Group CEO, Dr Shane Kelly, as well as his predecessor, Dr Michael Stanford AM, my fellow Board members, our Trustees and all our caregivers, doctors, allied health professionals and volunteers who every day ensure that every encounter matters. We work in an important industry and want to provide hospitality, hope and healing as well as compassionate care to those who need it, and I would like to thank all who work with us in achieving our Mission.