Parliamentary Secretary for Hunter Scot MacDonald and Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison weigh in on new Maitland Hospital

The hospital debate has been an emotive issue for Maitland residents, who for too long have waited for a much-needed health hub in one of the state’s fastest growing areas. At the centre of the debate are political rivals Scot MacDonald and Jenny Aitchison. We asked them for their views.

Underway: Scot MacDonald (left) unveils the new Maitland Hospital site last week with  project director Gavin Thompson and New England health executive leader Eddie Pirillo. Picture: Lachlan Leeming

Underway: Scot MacDonald (left) unveils the new Maitland Hospital site last week with project director Gavin Thompson and New England health executive leader Eddie Pirillo. Picture: Lachlan Leeming

Scot MacDonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter

The people of Maitland have been waiting far too long for a new hospital, and I do not shy away from the fact that Labor has been a complete roadblock to delivering a new hospital for Maitland.

I remind readers that Labor was sending NSW broke, and was sending the Hunter broke. 

Labor couldn’t manage the economy, couldn’t manage funds and never had the inclination to serve the people of Maitland with a new hospital.

It took a Liberal National Government to do that. 

I am proud of what our Government has done and I am proud of what our Government is going to deliver - a massive stimulus to the local economy with $450 million of public money and significant additional funds from the successful partner.

Off the back of a thorough Expression of Interest process, the Government will soon announce a shortlist of not-for-profit health providers.

The shortlist of not-for-profit health providers will move to the request for proposals (RFP) phase.

The Government has always said that it will weigh these proposals and evaluate them on the basis that there is a greater benefit to the community than can be delivered by Government funding alone.

Evaluating these proposals requires careful consideration. 

The Government will not be rushed by Labor, and will take all the time necessary to ensure the best decision will deliver a first class hospital for the community that continues to offer free public healthcare.

I would like to thank the community for their patience, and look forward to the Government continuing to deliver for the people of Maitland.

LEADING FROM THE FRONT: Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison has led the fight against a Public Private Partnership funding model for the new hospital.

LEADING FROM THE FRONT: Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison has led the fight against a Public Private Partnership funding model for the new hospital.

Jenny Aitchison, Member for Maitland

As the fastest growing city outside Sydney, both Labor and the Liberals recognise that Maitland needs a new hospital.

But we have starkly different views on how that should occur.

Labor believes the Maitland community deserves a public hospital, whereas the Liberals believe it should be a PPP (Public Private Partnership).

We also disagree on funding priorities. Labor believes that the more than $2 billion slated for two Sydney stadiums would be better spent on health, hospitals, schools and local sporting initiatives. The Liberals believe otherwise.

Fortunately, the Maitland community has won some battles with the Berejiklian Government retreating to a PPP model with a Not-for-profit provider (NFP). 

They also said that unless the NFP can demonstrate significant value for the community, it will not proceed.

Unfortunately, the community does not believe the Berejiklian Government as the PPP model is NOT the same as the Calvary-Mater set-up, which is operated and managed by the Government. 

It is part of Hunter New England Health with staff moving across the system as they wish, and there are mandated minimum staffing levels.

An NFP PPP hospital would be operated and managed by a private operator with a gift of $450 million of our tax payer dollars. A PPP would not “plug into” local health district services in a seamless integrated way.

The NFP would decide what services it offers, how it delivers them, and who gets what. They would also have no minimum staffing levels and staff wages would drop after two years.

We already have a private hospital in Maitland. Only around 17 per cent of our community is in private health funds for hospital cover, but the Berejiklian Government is unable to guarantee that 80 per cent of beds would be publicly available for our community at all times in the new hospital because they won’t be running it.

We can never forget Port Macquarie’s PPP hospital where after the private operator walked away. The independent Auditor General reported that the Liberal-National Government paid for it twice.

I was elected to represent the families and patients of Maitland, and they have demanded the Government cease its plans to privatise our new hospital.

More than 25,000 people have signed petitions, and attended rallies and community forums.

It’s time the Government listened.

They’ve got $2 billion to spend on rebuilding two stadiums in Sydney, we just want a public hospital.

Have your say

Email your thoughts on the issue to maitland@fairfaxmedia.com.au.