When Sun started cutting staff in the USA I
wrote to doctors in the hospitals warning them lest the same thing
happen in Sun controlled facilities here.
24 June 1999
Visiting Medical Staff
I wrote to you about this company in 1998 after it had been allowed into Australia by the federal government despite the objection of New South Wales. Since that time there have been extensive exposures of dysfunctional practices in the sphere in which it operates in the USA. Sun seems to be central to these allegations. It faces a large number of quality of care patient court actions and a number of its facilities have been closed by regulators. It is alleged to have deliberately understaffed and neglected patients in order to boost profits. A Qui Tam court action has been taken out in California and the allegations imply that large numbers of patients suffered and died needlessly.
The nurses have since 1994 taken out television and newspaper advertisements publicising their concerns about staffing levels and care. They resisted a defamation action by the company. They have now commenced a class action alleging that Sun understaffed and placed unreasonable pressures on staff, breeching state employment regulations.
Sun recently settled a fraud action in Connecticut for US $8 million. The attorney general accused the company of arrogance and avarice indicating that it was an open and closed case on the paper trail alone.
Sun is currently in dire financial trouble. It is struggling to avoid bankruptcy and has fired large numbers of staff. Federal agencies have advised all state regulators of the risks which Sun's financial difficulties pose for care and urged them to step up surveillance.
In December 1998 a probity check in Victoria found Sun Healthcare wanting. As a consequence its subsidiary Alpha Healthcare, the front runner in the bidding to build the Mildura public hospital withdrew its bid.
I enclose a number of press reports for your information. While most of the serious allegations made about Sun have not been proven in court, they are so numerous and so disturbing that I believe you should be informed and take such steps as you deem necessary to monitor staffing levels and patient care in facilities where Sun has some control.