A public forum with Health Minister Brad Hazzard is in the pipeline to highlight concerns over the new Maitland Hospital.
Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison, the Health Services Union and the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association will invite Mr Hazzard to attend a public forum in Maitland on May 15 where he can listen to the concerns of hospital staff, the wider medical profession and residents.
HSU organiser for Maitland Hospital Cindy Paull said Mr Hazzard’s visit last week had given people a “glimmer of hope” and shown the community that they still had a voice.
“It’s a way of connecting with the community, and it’s an opportunity to ask him questions and stand face to face with him,” she said.
“The government can’t put dollars before people … we don’t want reduced services, or to pay more for health care.”
NSW NMA Hunter New England Health organiser Christopher Camillieri praised Mr Hazzard for putting all options back on the table and said the association remained opposed to a public-private partnership.
“It’s a positive step, we are very happy that he’s put it all back on the table,” he said.
Mr Camillieri said hospital staff were worried about being employed by the private sector under a public-private partnership.
He said nurses who went to the private sector would only have their conditions frozen for two years.
He also said the new hospital had to cater for the city’s growing population so it could meet projected health demands.
“Staff are run off their feet as we speak … we’d love to talk about what [Brad Hazzard] sees for the future,” Mr Camillieri said.
Ms Aitchison said the city wanted a tier 5 public hospital built now.
If that happened, it would be similar to the size of John Hunter Hospital.
She said the government must start construction by March 2019 – like it promised before the 2015 election.
“We thought it was a good sign that the government was here … They don’t realise that there’s actually community concern here and it needs to be addressed,” Ms Aitchison said.
“We need to have the right capacity for the future, it’s got to be the right size.”