Hundreds of people gathered in Maitland Park today to show their disapproval of the Government's continuing plans to privatise the new Maitland Hospital.

The attendance reflected widespread support for a fully publicly funded hospital in Maitland, with over 24,000 people having signed petitions against the privatisation.

Community members as well as a strong contingent of unionists were in attendance. State Secretaries for the Health Services Union, NSW Nurses and Midwives, the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation, representatives of the Rail Team and Bus Union, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the Maritime Union of Australia as well as the Assistant Secretary of Unions NSW were all in attendance. Even Santa made an appearance!

Earlier in the year, the Government said they had changed the PPP proposal and would only partner with a "not-for-profit" private provider. Expressions of interest are due to be finalised by Health Infrastructure before Christmas.

Member for Maitland, Jenny Aitchison told the crowd that a Christmas deadline would mark nearly seven years since the project was first announced and had seen the demise of two Premiers and a Health Minister.

Ms Aitchison said that with less than one in five people in Maitland having private health cover for hospital care, the Government needed to respond to the urgent need for a new public hospital.

Quotes attributable to Santa

"The Maitland Community has been very good! They deserve a public hospital!"

"The community has given me a clear message for the Premier and Health Minister "All we want for Christmas is a fully funded public hospital."

Quotes attributable to Member for Maitland Ms Jenny Aitchison

“I condemn the privatisation agenda of this Government. The Minister for Health has publicly stated that he would act ‘to get the best outcome for the community”.

“We just want what everyone else in this state has - a public hospital.”

"We've got an extra $50 million, we've got enabling works starting before Christmas, and the Government has walked away from a for-profit partner. I'm asking the Health Minister for one more thing: just drop the whole privatisation and we will all be happy."

“The residents of Maitland have come out in strong numbers today and made their desires for their public hospital clear; we want it to stay public, and we’ll continue to fight tooth and nail to ensure we get want the community needs and wants.”

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