Anger as foundation sells John James Hospital properties
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Anger as foundation sells John James Hospital properties

Calvary John James Hospital buildings have been sold for more than $100 million,  in a move the hospital's foundation says will allow it to invest more in the community.

But one of the hospital's founders is angry at a lack of consulation and has called on the board to be sacked.

The property was purchased from the John James Foundation by Barwon Investment Partners which the board says will ensure the campus stays a hospital for at least 99 years.

John James Foundation CEO Joe Roff
Photo Jay Cronan

John James Foundation CEO Joe Roff Photo Jay CronanCredit:Jay Cronan

The foundation was created when the hospital was leased to Calvary Private Healthcare in 2006, keeping ownership of the hospital land and buildings which form the John James Health Care Campus.

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Founder of the hospital and foundation member Dr Peter Hughes said he was shocked and saddened the building and land had been sold off.

Dr Hughes had called for an extraordinary general meeting to call a motion of no confidence in the board and for its replacement

"This has come as a shock to the long term supporters of the hospital," he said.

"We are very angry particularly because they have not consulted members.

"I feel it is very poor behaviour and the board should be replaced.

“It feels like they will have lots of money from the sale and they'll play with it with shares and investments and not worry about the hospital."

Foundation CEO Joe Roff said the board had not been able to talk directly with its members about the sale due to confidentiality agreements.

He said it was only a small number of members who were unhappy with the new strategic direction.

"The parties to the process had to sign non-disclosure agreements," Mr Roff said.

"It was not for a lack of desire of wanting to consult with members, but simply our inability to do so.

"About 150 members vote for the directors on the board who are delegated the responsibility of making strategic decisions.

"I understand the emotional connection to the hospital; my children were born there.

"It doesn't mean the hospital is going to close, it's absolutely the opposite. It has now been given the opportunity to improve and grow."

He said the sale was in the best interests of the foundation and was an enormous investment in the Canberra community, with the foundation now able to use the proceeds to undertake more philanthropic work.

"Barwon have the absolute intention of continuing to grow and develop and unlock the potential of the site," Mr Roff said.

In a letter to members informing them of the sale yesterday, chairman Professor Paul Smith said the Board would now undertake a comprehensive process to ensure that the proceeds from the sale are appropriately invested.

"It is critical that members understand that the hospital will not close and that the transaction should not have any negative impact on hospital operations," he said in the letter.

"Calvary is committed to the hospital for the long term and the national CEO of Calvary has personally confirmed this commitment.

"The foundation will also remain committed to the hospital partnership and opportunities that may arise in the future to achieve its mission.

"Members are also informed that immediately prior to the transaction, the foundation secured an extension of the Crown lease for the healthcare campus for another 99 years.

"This will ensure the legacy of the healthcare campus continues for many decades to come."

Daniella White is a reporter for The Canberra Times with a special focus on health issues

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