HOSPITAL RESPONDS: 7-day service was 'unsustainable'
Executive officer Sue Thurbon told The Observer via a statement that private healthcare providers, particularly in regional areas, were facing financial and operational challenges.
She said change "had to happen" if these services were to remain viable in the future.
"The provision of healthcare services in Australia has changed dramatically in recent years and we must look for innovation in the way we deliver healthcare services here at the Mater to try and ensure that the range of healthcare services in our regional areas is not further reduced," she said.
She said during weekends only one or two patients would stay at the 30-bed hospital, making the seven-day service an "unsustainable situation".
A recent Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report into private health insurance found the cost continued to be a burden.
It found during 2017-18 Australians paid about $23.9 billion in private health insurance premiums, an increase of almost $834 million from the year prior.
Mrs Thurbon said no Mater employees would lose their jobs as a result of this change and patient care would not be affected, with current services to be maintained.
She said the decision was made after consultation with staff and Gladstone's medical community.
"At all times the care of our patients and any impact on staff were uppermost in my thinking," Mrs Thurbon said.
Under the new hours, overnight patient accommodation will be available Monday to Thursday and if needed accommodation will be available on Friday, with the patient discharged on Saturday morning.