‘Efficiency wins, but humanity loses’: Archbishop Prowse meets with Calvary staff

Archbishop Prowse speaks with Calvary staff at a morning tea following the passing of legislation for the ACT government’s forced takeover of the facility.

“Efficiency had won, but humanity had lost,” Archbishop Christopher Prowse said as he met with Calvary Hospital staff less than 24 hours after legislation had been passed for the ACT government’s forced takeover of the hospital.

“The arguments presented by the government focus just on efficiency – which, of course, is important, but what happens at Calvary Hospital is more than that – profound human values are at play. The Catholic ethos gives a real soul to the place rather than it being just a facility.”

Archbishop Prowse told staff he was “eager to have the opportunity to listen to their concerns” and assured them that he was walking alongside them during these challenging times.

“We are not machines,” he said. “We are human beings with deep aspirations, cherished Catholic values and a sense of family. Change can not be achieved just with a click of the finger.

“Some of you have told me, “Well, we have survived the pandemic; we will survive this”. This is a great Australian attitude  – to be determined to move forward despite difficulties.”

Administrators, nurses, midwives and doctors attended the morning tea with the Archbishop, with many expressing their determination to continue the culture of Calvary.

“I’ve worked here for over 20 years,” said one of the doctors. “Many of the staff have grown because of Calvary’s values, and we’re not going to drop them. We hold those values dear.”

“No matter what happens in the future, working for Calvary has been a privilege. It has been the best place that I’ve worked.”

One of the managerial staff said that people were putting on a brave face, but she believed some were close to breaking point.  

“In any organisation, a percentage of staff are already dealing with difficulties – financial, mental health or family issues, to name just a few. This uncertainty adds to that pressure,” she said.

“When staff are unsure about the process – what they do and how they do it – patients can potentially be at risk. The current transitional timeframe doesn’t allow policies to be rewritten or pathways to be reconsidered, which may create an aftershock.

“It is impossible to cover all aspects in just 30 days because the level of detail is enormous. For example, in my previous position with the Public Service, it took us 18 months to transition two services into one, and we were in the same directorate!”

On Thursday, Calvary Health Care sought an injunction to stop the compulsory acquisition in the ACT Supreme Court.

The ACT government plans to transition operations away from the Catholic healthcare provider to Canberra Health Services in the weeks leading to July 3.