It has been almost a year to the day since the former Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, announced plans to privatise Shellharbour Hospital, under the guise of a public-private partnership.
This announcement, made without any prior consultation with the local community or Shellharbour Hospital’s doctors and nurses, left the Shellharbour community reeling.
Nearly 365 days on and it appears as though residents are still no closer to learning about the fate of their hospital.
Despite considerable backlash, the Government seems intent on playing games with the Shellharbour community, having backed down on privatisation proposal’s for four other hospitals, leaving only the future of Shellharbour Hospital, up in the air.
State Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson, is demanding greater transparency from the NSW Government regarding the status of the public-private partnership touted for Shellharbour Hospital.
Questions aimed at the Minister during a recent budget estimates inquiry have failed to shed any light on the future of Shellharbour Hospital, despite budget estimates being a key process for government accountability and transparency.
When asked about the status of the Shellharbour public-private partnership, the Minister advised that “it is under review” and that he has not yet “come to a final conclusion”.
The Minister, who has not once visited Shellharbour Hospital, throughout this whole process, seems to be justifying the delay in making a decision on the fate of this Hospital by maintaining that the site is constrained.
Repeated requests by the Member for Shellharbour, to be provided with a copy of the Clinical Services Plan for Shellharbour Hospital, have also been denied, with the Minister advising that the plan ‘is currently being updated to ensure that it meets the needs of current and future south coast residents who will utilise Shellharbour Hospital’.
Comments attributable to Anna Watson MP:
“The residents of Shellharbour have been left in the dark for too long. The Minister needs to be more forthcoming with information about the future of Shellharbour Hospital and heed those concerns so strongly voiced by our community, time and time again”.
“Given the so-called constraints of this site, I invite the Minister to come out and visit Shellharbour Hospital, to meet with local stakeholders and see first-hand the nature of the site, before he hands down his final decision”.
“To date, the Government has backed down on every other privatisation proposal put forward, except this one. It is now time for the Minister to listen to our community, stop playing party politics and abandon the privatisation plans for Shellharbour Hospital, as a matter of priority”.
“The Government must come good on its election promise to the people of Shellharbour and deliver the $251 million upgrade that was pledged during the 2015 election and keep Shellharbour Hospital in public hands”.
8 September 2017