Calvary's involvement in the ACT's public health system is inefficient and "restricts the ability of the public health system", the boss of Canberra Health Services has told a court.
The Catholic hospital operator, trying to stop the government's takeover, has said up to 18 months would be needed to transition its services into the hands of the territory government.
Affidavits filed in a Supreme Court case, which threatens to delay the ACT's plan to take over Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, reveal a greater insight into the views of the opposing sides.
Canberra Health Services chief executive Dave Peffer said Calvary had previously refused to increase its bed capacity at short notice and Canberra Hospital had been unable to transfer patients to Calvary Public Hospital Bruce in cases where the former was operating above capacity.
"[Calvary Public Hospital Bruce] has at times refused to activate capacity at short notice," he said.
"Instead, it has required that commercial negotiations be undertaken before increasing supply in the health system."
Mr Peffer said in an affidavit the split model of the system had resulted in "inefficiencies and restricts the ability of the public health system".
Calvary national chief executive Martin Bowles said, in his affidavit, the government's public statements and approaches to Calvary staff had "caused confusion and considerable distress among staff".
Mr Bowles said the time frame was too short and in Calvary's experience, a safe and orderly transition usually required 12 to 18 months.
"In my view, such a time frame does not allow sufficient time to complete the actions necessary to effectively transition the services without compromising patient and staff safety," he said.
The Calvary boss was critical of the government attempts to engage with Calvary staff. Canberra Health Services has invited Calvary staff to attend sessions where they can hear information about the government's plans.
"I am concerned that the territory has embarked on a pattern of conduct which has the effect of interfering with the contractual relationships between Calvary and its staff prior to the passing of the proposed legislation - a matter which has been the subject of complaint by Calvary," Mr Bowles said.
MORE CALVARY TAKEOVER NEWS:
Calvary Health Care ACT urged the Supreme Court on Wednesday to block the government's takeover, arguing the "extraordinary and unique" legislation was invalid.
There has also been a push for an injunction to stop the ACT government from carrying out the acquisition but a full bench of the Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision no later than next Tuesday.
The ACT government has proposed to officially take control of the hospital from July 3.
Mr Peffer said any delays or periods of uncertainty prior to the July 3 acquisition date could have implications on clinical governance and care.
"The uncertainty and its implications for safe clinical governance and care will exist as long as there remains any doubt about the transition process, including as to its duration," he said.
"Whilst a safe and orderly transition is paramount, it is therefore important this period of uncertainty is as short as possible.
"If the territory cannot proceed with the planned acquisition day of July 3, 2023, this would have a knock on effect to the territory's ability to double the capacity of the Calvary and meet forecast future public health service demand."
Mr Peffer said only critical actions, such as the ownership of the land and the critical service delivery requirements, needed to be completed by July 3. He said there were other "non-critical actions" which could be dealt with over a 12-month period.
"The experience of the workforce could be near seamless if the parties work together," he said.
The government has agreed to not undertake any activities related to the acquisition until at least next week.
An ACT government spokeswoman has said the government's transition team was confident they had contingency plans in place to meet the current acquisition date but this could be reassessed.
"Subject to receiving the Supreme Court's decision, the Transition Team will work with Calvary to focus on the critical activities that are required for July 3, 2023 and to agree those which can be staged later in the transition period," the spokeswoman said.
"The priority for the ACT government during the transition period is the safety and wellbeing of patients and staff. Any consideration to postponing acquisition day would be considered thoroughly and through the lens of staff and patient safety."
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