The Maitland Hospital debate is back on after another 10,000 signatures were presented to Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison to be tabled in parliament.
Members of the Maitland branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association presented the petition, which calls on the NSW Government to make the hospital public, to Ms Aitchison on Friday.
The extra 10,000 signatures means the issue will be debated in parliament again.
The first petition was debated in parliament on September 14. About 40 Maitland residents travelled to Sydney to watch Ms Aitchison take the fight to the government and Health Minister Brad Hazzard.
The government decided back in July that it would not proceed with plans for a public-private partnership model to run the hospital. It instead announced a not-for-profit organisation would be called on to build and run the Metford hospital.
Ms Aitchison said the not-for-profit model was “privatisation by another name”.
She said the 20,000 signatures showed that the community agreed the best outcome for Maitland was a public hospital.
“It is time for the Premier to show some leadership and make our new hospital a public one,” Ms Aitchison said.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association Maitland branch president Jane Burton said the petition would put more pressure on the government to change its decision.
“This [petition] shows the community care about their hospital,” she said.
“They’re concerned they’re not going to have a fully public hospital.
“This has educated the public about what there is at stake.”
Ms Burton said there was a lot of cloud over what a not-for-profit run hospital would bring.
She said there were no guarantees of whether the organisation would outsource pathology or X-ray.
Ms Burton also had concerns that a new model would not allow the same level of school-based trainees, nursing students and recent graduates that the hospital currently took.
“They would be a huge loss to the community and to the youth in the area,” she said.
Ms Aitchison will table the petition next week. The date for the debate is expected to be early next year.