Several public hospitals in New South Wales have escaped privatisation after almost a year of determined campaigning by the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA ANMF NSW Branch) helped trigger a backflip from the state government
Five public hospitals – Maitland, Wyong, Goulbourn, Shellharbour and Bowral – were flagged for privatisation last year in shock developments that sparked concerns over the potential for poorer quality patient care and left hundreds of nurses and midwives facing uncertain futures.
In recent months, the state government, likely responding to widespread community backlash, shelved many of its plans when confirming three of the hospitals, Wyong, Bowral and Goulbourn, would no longer be moving into private hands.
However, concerns still linger for the remaining two hospitals.
While a new model was announced for Maitland Hospital by the state’s Health Minister, NSWNMA claims it will not meet the needs of the community, nor staff, and nevertheless represents privatisation of a public service.
For example, NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes (pictured) pointed to staff losing their Public Health Conditions of employment after two years and raised similar fears that there will be no guarantee on staff to patient ratios in two years’ time when staff are forced to migrate to a new employment agreement.
Elsewhere, Shellharbour Hospital remains in limbo.
Positively, the government’s decision to back away from several of its strategies marks a major win for the union and bolsters futurev campaigns against private involvement.
Mr Holmes said the outcome illustrated that common-sense had prevailed.
“There is overwhelming evidence showing public-private run partnerships are an expensive, ill-fitting model when it comes to the health sector.
“Handing over public hospitals to be built and run by private operators results in a loss of accountability, a lack of safe patient care and more taxpayers’ dollars being gifted to private shareholders.”
Mr Holmes said the NSWNMA’s unwavering stance against privatising public hospitals would continue.
He added it was now imperative that the government fast track funding to ensure upgrades at several of the hospitals in question are carried out and delivered on time in order to cater to growing community demand.
The government’s privatisation plans had forced hundreds of professional nursing and midwifery staff to wait on the sidelines as their futures were considered, with Mr Holmes paying special mention to their resolve and continued hard work and dedication.
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