Shellharbour Community Forum



On Monday 9 June, representatives from the health unions, including ASMOF Executive Director Andrew Holland, joined Member for Kiama Gareth Ward and Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra representing the NSW Health Minister, Anna Watson MP for Shellharbour, Shadow NSW Health Minister Walt Secord and Michael Whaites from Public Services International, to discuss their concerns about the privatisation of Shellhabour Hospital.

There was well over 400 passionate community members in a packed-out auditorium at the Shellhabour Workers Club.

In response to Gareth Ward’s opening remarks, Shadow NSW Health Minister, Walt Secord announced, ‘’This community will not have the protection or scrutiny of a public hospital under this plan’’.

‘’If it all sounds like an American system, you’re right. That’s a system where your wallet determines your quality of care, where people have to make decisions about whether they can afford to save a loved one. It’s a system where illness and injury can lead to financial ruin.’’

The audience then heard from two of our Senior Staff Specialists who are extremely concerned about how the quality of care and services provided by themselves, and their health colleagues, will be maintained under a private operator.

Palliative Care Director, Dr Greg Barclay noted, ‘’In our ward, public and private patients are treated the same. They are all treated with dignity and respect and based on clinical need, not insurance status’’.

In addition, Rehabilitation Director, Dr Geoff Murray said, ‘’This privatisation model has failed in all states, but despite the litany of past failures the government still wants to test the model on our community. They regard you as lab-rats’’

Dr Murray went further, to the cheers of the auditorium, “This is the privatisation of health… by stealth!”.

In support of the model, Gareth Ward outlined, ‘’Expressions of interest have been received and it’s going through the assessment process; if it comes back and it doesn’t benefit public patients then I will oppose it.’’.

He went on to add, “The only reason I’m entertaining this is that there are dollars the private sector can invest – if that means more services and new opportunities then I’m happy to see if that can occur.’’

In response, Executive Director of ASMOF, Andrew Holland replied “The only reason a private organisation or a private provider is going to get in there is to make money and to cut costs”.

Further, he reiterated our major concern, that training of our JMOs would be “completely undermined” under a privatised hospital at Shellharbour.

Often, private hospitals utilise contract-based models for doctors, and there is no contractual obligation for consultants to provide training or supervision to junior doctors.

The major teaching hospitals are where the junior doctors are trained – where our senior members take junior doctors under their wing, supervise them and train them to become the future staff specialists in our public and private system.

Our members have a real concern that under a new model that the training of junior doctors will be completely undermined, which puts the future for our doctors and the doctors that do such a wonderful job at risk.

It was an intense and incredible night, and we are proud of the community, and all those who attended, for taking a stand and speaking up to protect safe patient care in our world class public health system.

ASMOF and our Doctors will continue to take the fight to the NSW Government, and we look forward to your continued support in defending our great public health system.

If you would like to speak up and get involved in a similar way, feel free to email, or call the ASMOF Office on 9212 6900.

The next community forum is in Wyong on 15 June 2017, and we will provide members with updates as it progresses.