ABC Radio Adelaide program interview with Dr Rachel David on the importance of vaccination to prevent COVID outbreaks in the hospital environment

Station: ABC Radio Adelaide
Program: Afternoons
Date: 24/11/2021
Time: 1:54 PM
Compere: Sonya Feldhoff
Interviewee: Dr Rachel David, CEO, Private Healthcare Australia


SONYA FELDHOFF: We’re talking about this decision by several South Australian private hospitals to, in some cases, ban all unvaccinated visitors to their hospitals. In some other cases, it’s simply children under 12 because they’re ineligible. And a lot of people on our text line concerned about this issue of birthing, and how that might impact when, when partners or otherwise are unvaccinated. But if you’re someone who has private health insurance and you’ve made the decision not to be vaccinated, where does that leave you? Dr Rachel David is CEO of Private Healthcare Australia. Hello, Dr David.
RACHEL DAVID: Hi, Sonya, how are you?
SONYA FELDHOFF: Yeah, good. Thanks for joining us. Does this have implications for your private health insurance? I mean, what would be the point of having it if you couldn’t get into a private health hospital as a visitor to your partner?
RACHEL DAVID: Look, the first thing to be clear about is that if you have private health cover, you’re a Health Fund member, you will still be covered whether you’re vaccinated or not. It does not alter your level of cover in any way. And if you need medical treatment, then Health Fund will fully support you in, in getting access to medical treatment.

But I think we need to be clear that on the provider side, whether you’re talking about a private doctor, a dentist, physio or a hospital, it is up to them to keep themselves, their staff, and their patients, safe. And that should be their first priority. We’ve seen- I happen to be based in New South Wales, and we’ve seen some very nasty outbreaks occur in hospitals that have been difficult to control. And then it’s not just the effects of the outbreak, but it’s a fact that people who needed treatment then become frightened of attending hospital in case they, in case they catch COVID.

So there are all of these knock-on effects. It’s actually a disaster for it to become established in a hospital. It also affects the workforce if a number of staff test positive and then can’t attend work for, you know, up to, you know, up to 14 days. So, look, I think, whether we like it or not, we are going to be seeing more and more facilities and individual doctors that elect only to see people that have been double vaxed. However, people should remain, people should remain reassured that, in an emergency, they will be treated, and, you know, if they are in an emergency, they can also elect to use their private health cover.

SONYA FELDHOFF: Do you accept that if you are choosing to be unvaccinated, you might think against private health cover, though? If you’ve got private health hospitals imposing those kind of restrictions?
RACHEL DAVID: Look, to be honest, Sonya, I don’t think this is an issue that is going to remain confined to the private sector. I think we need to accept that, with the constraints on workforce and the potential impact of a COVID outbreak in a hospital – whether its private or public – you know, increasingly, if you want access to some of the non-emergency services that are available, you’re going to need to have- be double vaxed.
SONYA FELDHOFF: Dr Rachel David. Look, thank you very much for joining us.
* * END * *