Reprieve for Bourke St as fight continues for Goulburn Base

Goulburn residents are breathing a sigh of relief after securing a commitment this week from Assistant Minister for Health, Pru Goward, to keep Bourke Street Health Service open.

A local campaign, backed by the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA), highlighted community outrage over the decision and lack of consultation with affected staff, oncology and palliative care patients.

Assistant General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Judith Kiejda, said locals were pleased Minister Goward planned to intervene and ensure Bourke Street Health Service continued operating, but warned the fight to halt the privatisation of Goulburn Base Hospital was building.

“The Local Health District board ought to be sacked for wanting to close Bourke Street Health Service in such a way and we welcome Minister Goward’s commitment to rectify the issue,” Ms Kiejda said.

“This does not, however, quell the groundswell of community anger towards Macquarie Street over plans by the Health Minister to privatise Goulburn Base Hospital.

“The Baird Government turned its back on the people of Goulburn the moment the Health Minister announced she was seeking expressions of interest from private operators to refurbish and run Goulburn Base.

“Gifting regional public hospitals to the private sector is an outrageous abrogation of Mrs Skinner’s responsibility as Health Minister and she owes the community a proper explanation.

“On hearing the news, our members unanimously passed resolutions to seek urgent meetings with Minister Skinner to discuss their concerns over accountability and safe patient care under a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

“The Minister has yet to respond to our members and we will not be silent on this issue.

“No amount of shrieking in Parliament can hide the fact that privatisations in the health sector have a history of failure – let’s not forget Port Macquarie Base Hospital.

“The Health Minister claims these new PPPs would be similar hospital models to Newcastle’s Calvary Mater or St Vincent’s Darlinghurst, but those are Affiliated Health Organisations not PPPs – it’s like comparing apples with oranges.

“Minister Skinner very well knows that contractual obligations between the two models differ considerably and that PPPs aim to deliver significant profits to the private operator, all at the expense of people’s health,” said Ms Kiejda.

The NSWNMA called on Minister Skinner to address its members’ concerns over the privatisation proposals immediately and has not ruled out industrial action. A community petition is also being circulated to highlight the issue.