Maitland health workers fear for the safety of their jobs following the recent announcement that the $400 million new Maitland Hospital will likely be a public-private partnership.
The State Government made the announcement last week prompting a protest meeting at Maitland Hospital on Monday.
Health Services Union State Secretary Gerard Hayes, said the government made the announcement without any prior warning.
The complexity of the needs of the people of Maitland are dynamic.
“We, like most people, have no detail of how people will be affected,” Mr Hayes said.
“There is a lot of disturbing information going around,” he said.
Mr Hayes said there is a great deal of concern from the union’s perspective given dramas surrounding the privatisation of Port Macquarie and Royal North Shore hospitals which had to be bought back by the State because of inadequate services provided by the private sector.
“The Maitland community has complex needs through accident and emergency services to oncology and we want to be clear with the government that the hospital will not be given away to the highest bidder,” Mr Hayes said.
“The complexity of the needs of the people of Maitland are dynamic,” he said. “A 24/7 health system is required to deliver that whether you have the money or you don’t.
“What we see out of a private experience if you’re well off and you do have the money you won’t notice a difference but if you don’t have private cover, you’ll struggle and may have to go to Newcastle to access emergency services,” Mr Hayes said.
“At the end of the day the government will have to carry the can and bail the private operators out if things go badly.”
Mr Hayes said the HSU has about 150 members in Maitland.
“We don’t know how the nursing staff or the doctors will be affected. There’s no plan, no detail, no time frames, nothing and it’s pretty concerning stuff,” he said.
Mr Hayes said the next step is to consult with the Maitland community and stage a rally next month to air the union and community’s concerns.
Under a new partnership program to fast-track hospital upgrades, the government has invited Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from non-government hospital operators to build and deliver facilities at Maitland, Wyong, Goulburn and Shellharbour and to support the delivery of services at the redeveloped Bowral Hospital.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald announced that under the plan, successful operators with a proven track record in providing quality healthcare would construct the hospitals and run them on behalf of the government.