When the state government hands down its budget on Tuesday night there will be one question on the city’s mind – where is the money to build the new Maitland hospital?
Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison and NSW Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes have called on the government to dig deep in the budget, almost five years after the project was announced.
Mr Hayes challenged the government to commit $500 million for a publicly-funded facility, as it had done in Tweed Heads last week.
He said the move showed the government was favouring marginal seats and he hoped there was some good news on the horizon for the city.
“We expect similar funding for the people of Maitland, and, we would expect the government would treat the people of Maitland as they have treated the people of Tweed Heads … it will be a fully-funded public hospital run through the public health system and not in the hands of a private provider,” Mr Hayes said.
Fairfax Media approached Health Minister Brad Hazzard for comment, but he declined and passed the request onto Hunter New England Health. The department’s executive lead for the new Maitland hospital Eddie Pirillo did not say whether any money would be allocated in the budget.
He confirmed the state government had “committed to starting work by the end of next year” and it was considering expressions of interest received from the private sector.
Once that happened the government would decide whether to proceed with a public-private partnership. Mr Pirillo did not say when the process would finish.
“If the government is not certain that this approach will bring significant benefits to the community, the new hospital will be delivered as a government-led project,” Mr Pirillo said.
“Once a decision is reached, we will have clearer timelines and a better idea of the operational features of the new hospital.”
Ms Aitchison said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian should have dropped into Maitland after the community cabinet meeting in Singleton and announced the funding.
“There’s enough evidence around about the failure of those models,” she said.
“It would have been a good time for her to do it, she doesn’t get up to Maitland much at all.”