Wyong Community Forum



Last night, representatives from the health unions, including ASMOF Executive Director Andrew Holland, joined Scot Macdonald (MLC) Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and the Hunter, Kerry Stevenson Executive Director of District Redevelopment for CCLHD, David Harris MP for Wyong, and senior lecturer in economics at Macquarie University Dr Ben Spies Butcher, to discuss their concerns about the privatisation of Wyong Hospital.

In attendance was 350 passionate members of the community, including a range of local politicians, health professionals and union representatives.

In defence of the Government’s decision to pursue a public private partnership (PPP), Scot Macdonald referenced the Northern Beaches Hospital, stating, “my understanding is that Northern Beaches is working well” as an example of a successful model.

David Harris MP was quick to remind Mr Macdonald, “Northern Beaches Hospital actually isn’t operating at the moment. It’s under construction. It’s not finished. So the only viable example the government can show us is working, has no patients and it is a bit ‘Yes Minister’!”

Dr Spies-Butcher’s research identified what occurs when public health services are privatised. Beyond doubt, the data highlights that privatised healthcare makes services more expensive, less efficient and less equitable.

ASMOF Executive Director Andrew Holland attempted to demystify the government’s rhetoric on privatisation.

“We need to stop calling this a PPP. We need to stop calling this a health partnership. We need to stop talking about efficiency. Because at the end of the day it is about privatising a public asset that you own, that we own.

And it is about handing over a public asset to private interests, and it is absolute folly for anyone to expect that a public benefit will emerge from private profit seeking”,
he said.

Mr Holland then went further to discuss the impact privatisation will have on residents in these communities. Discussing the private model of care, he outlined that in order to meet the same demands of a public health system, a private operator would have to decrease resources and working conditions for all workers.

“…from my unions’ perspective, what we will see is increased pressures on junior doctors. Junior doctors working 20 hours on any one shift. Does anyone here want to be treated by a doctor who has just come off a 20 hour shift?

This increase to squeeze out efficiency and squeeze out demand that will have a negative impact on the service that can be provided to the residents in this District.”

He went further, discussing the impact this will have on the training of our junior doctors.

“What will also happen is a decline in the clinical and medical education of our junior doctors. We are proud of our teaching hospitals in this state that do a wonderful and fantastic job training junior doctors. And that is done by our senior doctors employed in these hospitals.
In a privatised model, you are going to see fewer employed senior doctors who take the time and commitment to train our junior doctors. You are going to see more contracted doctors who will not take the time to train the junior doctors”.

It was another important night for the community. As always, ASMOF is proud of all those who attended, for taking a stand and speaking up to protect the 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 damienl@asmof.org.au, or call the ASMOF Office on 9212 6900.

The live facebook video of the event can be seen here.