Shellharbour Hospital staff urge State Government to 'have a heart'

A Valentine’s Day rally called on the NSW Government to ‘not break hearts’ by going ahead with plans to part-privatise Shellharbour Hospital.

Nurses, doctors and other health workers converged outside Kiama MP Gareth Ward’s office to take a stand.

‘’We love our hospital, and would like Mr Ward to show he loves it too by not going ahead with a public-private partnership,’’ NSW Nurses and Midwives Association Illawarra organiser Carolina Leiva said. ‘’Among our concerns are that staff-patient ratios will not be adhered to, and that patient care will be compromised.’’

South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said staff, and residents, were sending the government a clear message. ‘’The government is in back-pedal mode – we’ve seen that with council mergers and now we want to see it with what really matters – our health.’’

Meantime Illawarra disability workers boarded a bus on Tuesday morning to join a ‘sea of hearts’ at a Sydney rally to stop the privatisation of their services.

‘’It’s not just about the loss of disability workers’ jobs – although that’s significant – it’s also about their patients who in many cases have been struggling for years to find accommodation and places to live that actually meet their considerable needs,’’ Mr Rorris said.

Illawarra disability workers travelled to Sydney on Tuesday morning to take part in a rally against the State Government's privatisation of disability care. Picture: Supplied

Illawarra disability workers travelled to Sydney on Tuesday morning to take part in a rally against the State Government's privatisation of disability care. Picture: Supplied

Public Service Association general secretary Stewart Little said the state government was privatising the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) to make way for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

‘’NSW will be the only state in Australia with no Government safety net, throwing the care of people with disability into free fall,’’ he said.

‘’Many will land heavily in the state’s hospitals, mental health facilities and even the criminal justice system, areas lacking expertise in specialist disability care.’’

Concerns around the plans for Shellharbour Hospital will be taken to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Thursday, after Mr Ward organised a meeting with delegates from health workers’ unions, including the NSWNMA.

‘’We welcome the opportunity to talk to the minister and voice our concerns,’’ Ms Leiva said. ‘’We don’t want this privatisation and we won’t back down.’’

Mr Ward has said that while the government had received a number of expressions of interest to rebuild and run a redeveloped hospital, no final decision had been made.

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