A 10,000-signatory petition opposing the proposed public-private partnership for the new Lower Hunter Hospital was tabled in the NSW Parliament today on behalf of the local community. Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison MP lodged the petition with the Tables Office on Wednesday and was advised that it will be debated by the House on 14 September. Over 200 people recently attended a Lower Hunter Hospital forum held at the East Maitland Bowling Club with the overwhelming message from attendees that the people of Maitland want a publicly owned and operated Lower Hunter Hospital. Representatives from the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association, the Health Services Union, the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation of NSW and the Maitland Community Unions Alliance have been instrumental in recognising the serious implications of privatisation of the health system and the impacts on nurses, doctors, health employees and, most importantly, patients. Comments attributable to Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison MP: “It’s time for the Health Minister to finally make his motivations clear, come clean about his Government’s plans for our new Lower Hunter Hospital and start listening to the wider local community." “The minister has publicly stated that an area’s health infrastructure should be in line with 'what patients and the community want.' The citizens of Maitland have made their desires for their public hospital clear: they want it to stay public, and any plans for privatisation will be fought vigorously." “I’m looking forward to debating this issue in the Parliament. It will give me the opportunity to bring residents’ concerns about the potential impacts of a Public – Private Partnership directly to decision-makers in Macquarie Street." "It’s time for the Health Minister to listen and finally, to act." "I will continue to hold the Government to account to ensure that our new hospital is operated for the people of Maitland and not for the profits of big business."

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