Community forum on Shellharbour Hospital's future

Shellharbour Hospital staff will gather at a community forum in June to air their concerns over a proposed public-private partnership.

The forum is being organised by staff unions including the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation and Health Services Union.

NSWNMA Illawarra Mental Health Nurses Branch president Glenn Hayes said the unions were inviting NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to address the public forum.

Mr Hayes said the minister had been ‘’receptive’’ to staff concerns during talks with union delegates in recent weeks. However he said the state government was still providing staff – and the community – with scant detail on its plan to redevelop the hospital under a PPP.

He said the ‘surprise plan’ announced last September by then health minister Jillian Skinner had not yet been the subject of a community debate.

‘’There needs to be a great deal more community awareness about this proposal, as people are getting mixed messages about how it will affect them,’’ Mr Hayes said.

‘’We’re holding the forum to outline our concerns and inviting representatives from the government and the health district to come along and hopefully address those concerns. The government has assured us that standards will be maintained under a PPP, but if there’s no guarantee on nurse-patient ratios or staff skill mixes then that can’t be achieved.’’

The state government has received an undisclosed number of expressions of interest from non-government operators, however Mr Hazzard has indicated he will not be rushed into a decision.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward said he was passing on any feedback to Mr Hazzard.

‘’This proposal was intended to try and reduce health costs and improve services to patients – if it proves not to be in the best interests of public patients it will not proceed,’’ he said.

The forum will be held at 6.30pm, June 5, at The Shellharbour Club.

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