Will the newly appointed NSW premier push ahead with privatising the state’s hospitals?
While that remains to be seen, minister for north coast, Don Page (Nationals), says his party – which shares government with the Liberals – ‘does not support the privatisation of public hospitals.’
His response came as NSW Labor shadow minister for the north coast, Walt Secord, called on north coast Nationals MPs Geoff Provest (Tweed), Don Page (Ballina), Thomas George (Lismore) and Chris Gulaptis (Clarence) to reject outright any possible privatisation of the state’s public hospitals.
Newly appointed NSW premier Mike Baird has given public support for the privatisation of public hospitals, and told Fairfax media he supports Western Australia’s model where where non-clinical staff were privately employed and public hospitals were privately built and managed.
But Mr Page told The Echo, ‘This is classic Secord scare campaign bullshit.’
Scare campaign: Page
‘The fact is that private hospitals and public hospitals have been part of our health system for more than 100 years.
‘In our own area we have St Vincent’s (Lismore), John Flynn (Coolangatta), and Ballina Day Surgery (Tamar St Ballina), which are private health facilities.
‘They supplement and complement our public hospitals. The Nationals have no intention of privatising our public hospitals. There are some circumstances where it can be beneficial to have a private component to a public hospital.
‘For example, if I can get the $90 million I need to build a new central public hospital for the Byron Shire area in the next budget, the private sector could be invited to tender for the day surgery component.
‘Day surgery would serve both public and private patients and would thereby guarantee the patient numbers to justify having that facility locally.
‘As we know the previous state Labor government let the Byron Shire central hospital go unfunded for their whole 16-year term, whereas we have activated the planning to the point where we can mount a credible case to Treasury for funding in the next state budget.
‘I repeat, the Nationals do not support the privatisation of public hospitals,’ said Mr Page. ‘However, private hospitals will continue to play a part in our health system and in some cases it is in the public interest to engage with the private sector.’