Nurses fear Northern Beaches privatisation will undermine our public hospitals

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has publicly criticised the NSW Coalition Government over today’s decision to appoint private sector operator, Healthscope Limited, to build and run Sydney’s new Northern Beaches Hospital.

For more than 12 months, the NSWNMA has been lobbying on behalf of more than 59,000 nurses and midwives statewide to highlight the adverse impacts of the Baird Government’s plan to reintroduce public-private partnerships into the public hospital system, which deliver profits to corporations not only for building but for direct delivery of care to public patients.

General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said today’s announcement by Premier Mike Baird and Health Minister Jillian Skinner on the 6.5 hectare site at Frenchs Forest was typical of the Baird Government’s contemptuous attitude towards the community.

“Today, the Premier has chosen to turn his back on the people of NSW, blatantly ignoring the concerns held by the residents and workers of his own Manly electorate, to hand over the operation of this new public hospital to the private sector,” Mr Holmes said.

“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.

“Healthscope only re-listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) in recent months.

“It’s revealing when Healthscope is obligated to inform the ASX about being the preferred tender of the new hospital, before the local community and affected employees are told anything.

“Our members fear this will become the status quo where shareholders’ needs come before those of the community.

“It’s a sad day for the public hospital system of NSW and confirms that the Baird Government has an agenda to privatise more public hospitals throughout the state, including Maitland and Byron Central, regardless of the consequences for patients, their families or dedicated employees.

“Local nurses and midwives remain in the dark about their future working conditions and entitlements, with little opportunity to negotiate as contract talks between the Baird Government and Healthscope continue behind closed doors.

“Not only has this government shut the community out of the decision making process, they’ve forced hundreds of professional nursing and midwifery staff to wait on the sidelines as their future prospects are discussed without consulting them.

“We have warned the NSW Health Minister repeatedly of the dire consequences if safe patient care is compromised as a result of nurse-to-patient ratios not being introduced and mandated – by making this deal with the private sector, which does not enforce nurse-to-patient ratios, the Minister is abrogating her duty of care to the people of this state.

“Not surprisingly Healthscope shareholders will be excited about the opportunities to get access to hundreds of millions of tax payer funds through this deal.”

The NSWNMA will continue to campaign on behalf of its members and oppose the privatisation of the new Northern Beaches Hospital as well as educate the community about threats to the future of public health services.

Download this media release: Nurses fear Northern Beaches privatisation will undermine our public hospitals


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