Health Minister Jillian Skinner has announced she will invite expressions of interest from the private sector to design, construct, operate and maintain a public hospital on Sydney’s northern beaches.
The new Northern Beaches Hospital will see acute services relocated from Mona Vale and Manly hospitals. Mona Vale Hospital will be redeveloped to provide complementary health services including urgent care, sub-acute care and palliative care. Manly Hospital will close when the Northern Beaches Hospital opens.
“Partnering with a private or not-for-profit hospital operator will allow the hospital to be built faster, delivering better value for the taxpayers of New South Wales,” Health Minister Skinner said.
NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes disagrees with the claim that a privately managed hospital will deliver better value.
“Public hospitals are not about profit they are about providing essential services. That is why they should always stay in government hands. Governments are accountable to the people for the quality of the services they provide. Private corporations are not subject to the same level of public accountability,” he said.
“We have been down this route before with the Port Macquarie Hospital. It was a fiasco that cost the New South Wales taxpayer dearly, as well as local patients and nurses.
“Privatisation did not deliver better patient care for the local community. Funding for elective surgery was insufficient and there were very long waiting lists.
“Nurses at Port Macquarie Base lived in something of an industrial twilight zone after the privatisation of the hospital in 1996. At the time it was contentious and divisive that nurses were working alongside each other under two different awards, with different pay and conditions.
“The private contractors also pushed strongly to introduce a model of care that would have used AiNs to reduce the number of RNs.”
The new Northern Beaches Hospital will be built on a 6.5-hectare site at Frenchs Forest. The winning tender will be identified in 2014, with main building construction scheduled to start in 2015. Completion is due in 2018.
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