VICTORY: Wyong and Bowral Hospital to Remain in Public Hands

07-Jul-2017
     

 



After nine months of uncertainty, the Government has announced that it is backflipping on plans to privatise Wyong and Bowral Hospital, and have chosen to fund the redevelopments with public investment.

Members will be aware, ASMOF, in coalition with the Nurses and the HSU, have been running a campaign to push back against the privatisation of our public health system. The campaign launched in Wyong in October last year, with an incredible rally drawing over 2000 concerned health workers and community members calling on the Government to put patients over profits.

The Health Unions organised several additional events, including community forums to provide the public with an opportunity to raise their significant concerns, and question local MPs, stakeholders and union leaders about the impact this will have on the conditions of workers, and the impacts to patient care.

In response to the intense opposition, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has announced the Government has backflipped on their plans to sell the hospital to a private operator, and will now fully fund the $200 million Wyong Hospital redevelopment.

“After careful assessment of expressions of interest from operators, the NSW Government has decided on a Government-led approach for this significant upgrade,” Mr Hazzard said.

Scot MacDonald, Central Coast Parliamentary Secretary, has stated that the preliminary upgrade works on Wyong will begin by the end of the year.

The investment will fund an upgrade to much needed facilities, including a new emergency department and more paediatric services, inpatient surgical beds and mental health services, as well as extra car parking.

David Harris MP for Wyong said the government had “finally conceded to the will of the people”.

Mr Harris went further, noting, “After nine long and uncertain months of a hard-fought community campaign, the government has abandoned their unfair and unjustified plan to privatise our Wyong Hospital”.

“In my entire life, I have never seen an issue which has galvanised our community so strongly. This is a win by our community, for our community.”

Similarly, in Bowral, the Government has walked away after intense pressure from the community, and the health workers.

Supported by the Health Unions, the community organised an action group, Public Health First, to lobby the government for answers about the future of the hospital and seek greater consultation.

Like Wyong, a community forum was held to discuss the proposed privatisation of Bowral Hospital. The hall was filled with up to 200 members of the community, and included Jai Rowell MP, Pru Goward MP, Stephen Jones MP, and CEO of SWSLHD, Amanda Larkin.

One of our main advocates, Senior Staff Specialist - Dr Geoff Murray, spoke to the crowd and delivered a powerful speech. Dr Murray summed up precisely why the community will feel the effects of privatisation the hardest.

 

“The way Ramsay, and others, will achieve their financial outcomes is to cut costs to vulnerable patients. These are the elderly, the dying, the disabled, and the mental health patients.

Ramsay and others will have a conflict of interest with these patients. The cost of meeting the duty of care to patients conflicts with their motivation to make profit and recover capital investment.”

Mr Rowell stated, “I’ve said from the start if a PPP didn’t make sense to the Southern Highlands and my electorate, and we couldn’t get the best deal then it wouldn’t have my support.”

“I’ve made it very clear to the [health] minister – and so has the community – and the Premier heard it loud and clear during her visit that there were real concerns it wasn’t going to be the best option,”.

The $50 million investment into Bowral and District Hospital will include new operating theatres, adult and paediatric inpatient wards, birthing suites, more single rooms, new rehabilitation spaces and a new hospital entrance.

These are amazing victories for the Doctors, Nurses, Health Professionals and the patients that rely on their services.

We are proud of our doctors for taking a stand and speaking up to protect their safe patient care commitments to all communities that rely on our world class public health system.

ASMOF and our Doctors will continue to take the fight to the NSW Government to stop the privatisation of Maitland and Shellharbour Hospitals, 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 damienl@asmof.org.au, or call the ASMOF Office on 9212 6900.