The Illawarra’s State Labor Members of Parliament have today demanded the Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard MP, abandon the privatisation of Shellharbour Public Hospital following a public meeting attended by over 300 people last night.
Anna Watson MP, Paul Scully MP and Ryan Park MP have penned a letter to the Minister making clear that there is no support for the Government’s privatisation proposal for Shellharbour Public Hospital and its associated impacts on Port Kembla Public Hospital.
The MP’s told the Minister the local community did not trust the Government’s motives and do not trust private for-profit providers to deliver their hospital care.
They have requested the Government end the secrecy relating to the proposed bids it has received from the private sector and called on the Minister to release all of the proposals immediately.
Last night’s public meeting at the Shellharbour Club follows a public rally last November and the tabling last week in the Legislative Assembly of a 12,000 signatory petition opposing the privatisation of Shellharbour Public Hospital and the subsequent downgrade of services at Port Kembla Public Hospital.
Correspondence to the Minister for Health, Hon Brad Hazzard MP:
We approach you in regard to the Government’s proposal to privatise health services at Shellharbour and subsequent reduction of services at Port Kembla Public Hospitals and following a public meeting at the Shellharbour Club last night, which overwhelmingly rejected this proposal and demanded that health services at both hospitals remain publicly owned and publicly operated.
The Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast, Mr Gareth Ward MP, attended the public meeting last night, and indicated he had not yet seen the proposals submitted by private sector bidders to build and operate the Shellharbour Hospital.
Mr Ward also made clear that he, as the Government’s representative in the Illawarra, would not support the Government’s proposal if the bids could not deliver better health services.
The overwhelming concerns of the over 300 people who filled the Shellharbour Club last night remain that they are suspicious of the Government’s motives and do not trust their hospital care to be provided by private for-profit health providers.
Residents are concerned that hospital and health care under the Government’s proposal will be costly, segmented into two-tiers where those with private health insurance are prioritised, and the jobs of nurses and auxiliary personnel will be down-graded in terms of pay and working conditions.
The secrecy relating to the private sector bids the Government has received must end immediately.
Residents also expressed the view that despite nearly 12 months of the Government’s announcement it was considering the privatisation of hospital services at Shellharbour, there is still no detail able to be provided for open, transparent, public scrutiny.
It is time that the Government publicly released all of the private sector bids that it has received to build and operate Shellharbour Public Hospital for public scrutiny immediately.
The people of the Illawarra region – particularly the growing population in the southern suburbs – are entitled to know what the private for-profit bidders are proposing to deliver for their on-going hospital and health care.
They are also entitled to know what the Government is assessing on their behalf.
We indicate to you (and Mr Ward can independently confirm to you) that there is no support for the Government’s privatisation proposal in relation to Shellharbour, and subsequent impacts on Port Kembla Public Hospitals.
We remind you that apart from last night’s public meeting, as representatives who live in our local communities, we have all been approached in our offices and at other community events by constituents who have indicated they oppose the privatisation of their health care. This is also in addition to the over 12,000 signatory petition tabled in the Legislative Assembly last week.
We call on you to listen to the overwhelming concerns of our constituents who do not support the Government’s privatisation proposal.
It is time for the Government to abandon this proposal and deliver the upgrade to Shellharbour Public Hospital promised at the 2015 election whilst maintaining hospital and health services in public hands and publicly funded.
ANNA WATSON MP PAUL SCULLY MP RYAN PARK MP
Member for Shellharbour Member for Wollongong Member for Keira