Community opposition to privatising Maitland hospital grows

The NSW government has announced plans to privatise hospitals in Maitland, Wyong, Goulburn, Shellharbour and Bowral. It is a symptom of a disease: our public services are threatened by politicians who want to privatise them so companies can run them for profit.

General secretary of NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) Brett Holmes told Green Left Weekly: “The public-private partnership model is flawed. It isn’t favourable for taxpayers because it ends up costing more in the long-run. These private operators rely on public money to fund their profits.

“The government thinks they’re delivering services cheaper but private operators need to deliver a profit to shareholders. Somebody is losing here and it’s not the government or private operators: it’s patients and staff.

“There is a high risk of mismanagement at facilities that are out of government hands. At Royal North Shore when cleaning was outsourced, patient care was compromised because of resource constraints — we heard stories of patients being left in hallways because there were no clean beds.

“We’re extremely concerned about patient care in the long run, as no large private hospital operator has been prepared to agree to nurse to patient ratios anywhere in New South Wales. Without these, patient safety is dependent upon budget, and now profit, to determine staffing levels.

“We’ve been campaigning hard against the privatisation of the state’s public hospitals on behalf of our members but also on behalf of the community. Privatised public hospital models have a history of failure in Australia — we all know how badly Port Macquarie Base Hospital failed under a similar arrangement.

“Private operators promise to deliver cheaper services but then have to come back to government to ask for more money because they underestimated demand. Governments pay up or have to take back control and pay compensation to private companies.”

[People in the Hunter are urged to show their support to keep the new hospital public by joining the rally at noon on Sunday October 23 at Maitland railway station, Church Street, Maitland, and then march to Maitland Park.

You can also show your support by liking the Facebook page, sharing the hashtag #keepitpublic and signing a petition to the government demanding public hospitals in NSW remain public.]

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