The future of Shellharbour Hospital remains uncertain despite news that another regional hospital will remain in public hands.
The NSW Government announced on Friday that it had walked away from plans to part-privatise Bowral and District Hospital, a day after announcing a similar plan would not go ahead at Wyong Hospital.
Shellharbour and Maitland hospitals are the last two regional hospitals slated for a public-private partnership (PPP), with such a plan scrapped at Goulburn last October.
Labor’s health spokesman Walt Secord has called on the state government to ‘’finish the job’’ and drop PPPs at the remaining two hospitals.
‘’Health Minister Brad Hazzard has claimed that he made the decision for Wyong and Bowral hospitals based on the community’s view,’’ Mr Secord said.
‘’The community view at Maitland and Shellharbour is the same. Those communities want their local hospitals in community hands. They oppose the privatisation of health and hospitals.’’
A strong community campaign has been waged against the Shellharbour proposal, most recently in June when hundreds of people attended a public forum.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association general secretary Brett Holmes welcomed this week’s decisions, and called on the government to ‘’extend the same courtesy to the communities of Shellharbour and Maitland’’.
‘’It is vital the health minister does the right thing and delivers a publicly built and operated new hospital in Maitland and also Shellharbour,” he said.
Mr Hazzard said each case was being looked at on its merits: ‘’We’re consulting with the community and basing our decisions on what will result in the best possible hospital.’’
It was last September that former health minister Jillian Skinner invited expressions of interest from private providers to redevelop the five regional hospitals under PPPs.
A number of EOIs have been received for the Shellharbour redevelopment, for which the government promised $251 million for at the 2015 state election.
Mr Holmes said members were relieved by the decisions made to abandon the part-privatisation plans at the three hospitals.
‘’We congratulate NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard for listening to our concerns and not just pressing ahead with the public-private partnership model that was left behind by his predecessor,’’ he said.
‘’Our members had been extremely concerned, not only about their own job security under a public-private partnership arrangement, but also over the lack of guaranteed safe patient care and accountability of taxpayers’ money.’’
Parliamentary secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward said he wants to see the detail of the EOI, but would not ‘’support any model of healthcare that disadvantages public patients; I only want to see services enhanced’’.