The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has expressed disappointment at the ongoing secrecy surrounding the delayed release of a multimillion dollar contract between Northern Sydney Local Health District and private operator, Healthscope, regarding the new Northern Beaches Hospital at Frenchs Forest.
Despite the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 stipulating a contract must be publicly disclosed within 45 days, the Health Minister has yet to disclose the contract which contains information about the future employment prospects of nurses and midwives who live and work in the Northern Beaches and future health provision services for the local community.
General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said the contract was signed on 11 December, yet here we are conveniently after the state election with no more light shed on the details of the contract.
“We’ve been calling on the Health Minister to be upfront with the nurses and midwives who live and work on the Northern Beaches and to provide them with some clarity about their future employment prospects,” Mr Holmes said.
“Healthscope was announced as the preferred tenderer last October. Here we are six months later and yet to see the fine print of a 20-year contract the government has signed with the for-profit hospital operator.”
“Our key concern has always been the history of failure of public-private partnerships in a public hospital setting, the lack of transparency surrounding ‘commercial in confidence’ arrangements and the inability of government to be upfront with nurses about employment prospects and the community about appropriate patient care.
“We were told that further details would come to light once a preferred tenderer was announced, then reassured that our members would be kept up to date about arrangements regarding working conditions, entitlements and nurse-to-patient ratios, but, yet again, they’re being told to wait – it’s time for the Minister to come clean.
“We have known for some time that Manly Hospital will close and Mona Vale Hospital will lose its acute health care services, however, the nurses and midwives have been kept in the dark about any transfer arrangements to the new hospital.”
“How can we ever be sure of the effectiveness of this public-private partnership if the government continues to operate under such secrecy,” Mr Holmes said.
Mr Holmes confirmed the NSWNMA was yet to meet with Healthscope directly to discuss the contract.
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