Media Release: Maitland Hospital - Questions Remain

Labor has demanded the Berejikilian Government end confusion over the model for Maitland Hospital - after the Parliamentary Secretary to Hunter yesterday contradicted the Health Minister. Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison issued the call after Liberal MLC Scot MacDonald told Hunter media that the Maitland Hospital will definitely be a PPP with a not-for-profit provider. This is in stark contrast to promises by Health Minister Brad Hazard, who told her the Expressions of Interest (EOI) process was on-going and no decision had been made about the operators - if any. Ms Aitchison also claimed that Mr Hazzard gave her an undertaking that he would advise her personally of any decision on the project. She said that serious questions now remain over the model for the hospital as it appears that “Mr MacDonald let the cat out of the bag by confirming to the media that a short list of preferred private not-for-profit operators had been selected and that the Government would definitely be proceeding with a public private partnership with a not-for-profit operator”. Earlier this month, Ms Aitchison had asked Mr Hazzard to provide a statement of clarification about the status of the EOI process, however he was unable to comment at this time. The Minister made it clear to Ms Aitchison that neither he nor the Cabinet is involved in the EOI process. “The community has a right to know,” Ms Aitchison said. “The community has spoken clearly, they want a public hospital run by the State Government.”

"Given that less than 20% of the community of Maitland use private health insurance, the community needs a guarantee that 80% of the beds in the new hospital will be funded by the State Government. There has been a complete lack of community and workforce consultation on this latest announcement by Scot MacDonald. I've had members of the community tell me they are devastated that this might not be a fully public hospital. I've had staff from the hospital contact me absolutely distraught as they don't know what will happen to their jobs under a PPP NFP model."

Background •The Liberal-National State Government first promised a new Lower Hunter hospital for Maitland prior to its election in 2011.

•Originally, it promised a John Hunter-sized tertiary teaching hospital.

•The Liberal-National State Government later said the hospital would be around half the size of the John Hunter and would be a rural referral hospital.

•For nearly six years, the Liberal-National State Government has consistently denied the hospital would be a private public partnership (PPP).

•In September 2016, the then-Health Minister Jillian Skinner was forced to admit that the hospital would be operated under a PPP along with four other hospitals at Goulburn, Bowral, Wyong and Shellharbour.

•The Liberal-National State Government has back flipped on all of the other hospitals, but suggested that they were testing the market to engage in a PPP with a not-for-profit operator for the new Maitland Hospital.

•More than 24,000 residents have signed petitions and attended rallies against the privatisation of the hospital.

•The Liberal-National State Government has not undertaken any public consultation on the hospital model or services since November 2014.

• HNE Health has confirmed the less than 20% of patients in Maitland use private hospital cover

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