Shellharbour Hospital saved from privatisation

November 4, 2017
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris at a rally to stop the privatisation of Shellharbour Hospital last year.

After a concerted campaign by staff, trade unions and the community, the NSW government announced on October 27 that Shellharbour Hospital in the Illawarra will remain in public hands.

The campaign forced the government to cancel its proposed public-private partnership (PPP) plan and instead proceed with a $251 million redevelopment of the hospital on its current site.

Nadia Rodriguez, from the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) Shellharbour branch, said: "We've literally been campaigning for 13 months and wearing our hearts on our sleeves and to finally get the correct decision is amazing.

"What this means is that we have universal health care for everyone, our patients will continue to receive high quality care and our staff finally have security. It's a victory for everyone," she told the Illawarra Mercury.

Staff and their unions, together with local communities, had campaigned against the privatisation proposal since the state government announced its plans to redevelop five regional NSW hospitals under a PPP, in September last year.

After widespread opposition, those plans have now been abandoned at Bowral, Goulburn and Wyong hospitals, while the government is seeking a non-profit operator to build and run Maitland Hospital.

Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes said: "From the moment this privatisation was announced, hospital workers were up in arms. They know the hospital system is already stretched and that privatisation will only make things worse.

"This is a famous victory and it's one that is well deserved. Community interest has triumphed over corporate greed.

"Public health is Australia is sacred and it should not be compromised by profit. Shellharbour Hospital workers and their supporters deserve to celebrate in style. This is a hard-earned victory."

NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes congratulated staff and residents for their "tireless campaigning."

"Our members have been living with this uncertainty for more than a year, which put their job security under a cloud, not to mention fears over the lack of guaranteed safe patient care and accountability under a public-privatised model," he said.

"We stand by the evidence that indicates public-private partnerships in the health sector don't work."

South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris added: "The history of the Illawarra has been marked by struggle. Nothing has been won without it and this victory for the community is up there with the best of them."

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