It seemed the hospital issue was done and dusted, but there is still strong debate, as these edited extracts show from both sides of the debate.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard is ignoring the wishes of Lower Hunter residents and hanging local nurses and midwives out to dry by calling for tenders from the not-for-profit sector to design, build and manage the new Maitland Hospital at Metford.
Public sector nurses and midwives are well aware those in the not-for-profit sector are still very much surplus-driven entities. The Berejiklian Government is seeking the same outcome as its previous public-private partnership model – to outsource the delivery of public health services. It’s essentially sugar-coating privatisation. Partnering with the not-for-profit sector just tries makes it more palpable for our community.
As advocates for accessible universal public healthcare, we are extremely disappointed the government is pursuing this deal which will remove patient safety standards currently delivered under minimum standards of nursing hours per patient day. What happens to the accountability? As the fastest growing area in the Hunter region, we need to ensure our community has access to the most reliable, cost-effective public health services available.
As nurses and midwives, we live for our work, our families and our local communities, but we’ve been dealt a massive blow – told we will only have our hard-fought working and public sector employment conditions guaranteed for two years, before we become fair game for a new set of rules, pay and conditions.
The state government is withdrawing its duty of care and the Maitland community will lose its publicly run health service. Shame on Minister Hazzard for not listening to the concerns of the hardworking nurses and midwives of this expanding, vibrant region. We won’t stop campaigning until we are afforded the same courtesy as the Wyong and Bowral communities and receive a fully public hospital.
Jane Burton, President of Maitland Hospital Branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Assn
I want to reassure the community that the new Maitland Hospital will be a part of the Hunter New England Local Health District and held to the same standard as all public hospitals in NSW.
The contract with the successful operator will ensure the new hospital provides free public health services and that it must meet all of the District’s mandated patient safety and clinical governance protocols and reporting requirements.
A great example of this model in action is Hunter New England Health’s long-standing partnership with the Little Company of Mary which operates the Calvary Mater Newcastle.
The new Maitland Hospital operator will also be required to maximise employment opportunities for all permanent NSW Health staff currently working at Maitland Hospital.
Employees who migrate to the new Maitland hospital will have the additional security of a two-year employment guarantee. This means that, during their first two years working at the new hospital, the award terms and conditions which apply to an employee cannot be changed without the employee's agreement. Their employment cannot be terminated except for very limited reasons such as misconduct.
Any permanent staff who do not transfer to the new Maitland hospital will be redeployed within NSW Health wherever possible.
This partnership will enable us to deliver a 21st century hospital with a wide range of health services for public patients, including for the first time, chemotherapy. A hospital for our staff and the community to be proud of.
I understand that staff and the community have many questions about the new hospital and we’re committed to keeping you informed as we progress through this process.