John James foundation says it can now double cash it distributes
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John James foundation says it can now double cash it distributes

The chief executive officer of the John James Foundation says the sale of the hospital has doubled the pool of cash it can distribute to Canberra organisations and expects to donate $500,000 this year.

It comes amid growing tensions between foundation members and the board over a decision to sell the John James Hospital for $100 million to Barwon Investment Partners last month without consulting members of the foundation that owned it.

Members of John James Hospital foundation (from left) Surgeon Vincent Ferraro, obstetrician/gynecologist Grahame Bates, anaesthetist Prue Martin, vascular surgeon David Hardman, radiologist Tim Davis and neurologist Peter Hughes.

Members of John James Hospital foundation (from left) Surgeon Vincent Ferraro, obstetrician/gynecologist Grahame Bates, anaesthetist Prue Martin, vascular surgeon David Hardman, radiologist Tim Davis and neurologist Peter Hughes.Credit:Karleen Minney

The foundation was created when the John James 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.

An extraordinary general meeting will be held on June 19 to vote on a motion of no confidence in the board.

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Foundation chief executive officer Joe Roff said he believed much of the anger was from founding members who had "laid the first bricks" of the hospital.

"We understand that their legacy is buried within that," he said.

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"It's natural with his sort of change and the board's view is that the legacy will continue sustainably into the future."

Mr Roff said before the sale the foundation would distribute $250,000 annually to community groups and charities, but that would increase to half a million dollars this year.

“We’re looking at more significant community health initiatives and more grants," he said.

“The foundation is now in the financial position to increase the philanthropic work it does."

He said he wanted to build awareness and get new submissions from community organisations with new rounds of grants about to open.

"We are now one of the largest healthcare philanthropic foundations in Australia," Mr Roff said.

"I would like to see it grow its philanthropic footprint to have a greater influence and positive impact.

"The membership are private medical specialists giving back to Canberra."

He stood by the board's decision not to consult members about the sale, saying there were commercial confidence issues at play.

"The board is very clear that the foundation is made up of all members, they have a right to call meetings and be heard and make motions and the board has welcomed that," he said.

A group of members wrote an open letter saying the reason members were not consulted was because there was a good chance they would not agree to sell.

"The decision to sell the hospital leaked to the members on April 10, and on April 20 sufficient applications by members were lodged to require the calling of an extraordinary general meeting of the foundation to consider a motion of no confidence in the current directors," the letter read.

"The directors should then have put the sale negotiations on hold until the EGM had been held, but instead went ahead and concluded the sale 14 days later.

"The hospital had continued to be a financially viable enterprise, with rental from Calvary Private Health Care.

"The foundation, as landlord, maintained the hospital to a good standard and there was no requirement for extra beds or other major capital expenditure."

The letter was signed by Dr Peter Hughes, Dr David Hardman, Dr Grahame Bates, Dr Martyn Stafford-Bell and Dr David McNicol.

The meeting to consider the no confidence motion is being held on June 19.

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

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