Bowral and District Hospital privatisation claims rebuffed

Bowral and District Hospital. Photo: SHN

Bowral and District Hospital. Photo: SHN

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MEMBER for Wollondilly Jai Rowell confirmed Bowral and District Hospital would not be privatised.

Concerns have been raised regarding the possibility of privatisation, as non-government operators have been invited to become more involved in the public health sector.

Mr Rowell said speculation the hospital would become privatised was “scare mongering from Labor”.

“The public won’t see any difference,” he said.

“It’s [about] how the government and private sector will work together.”

The NSW government has called for expressions of interest from the non-government sector regarding Bowral and District Hospital, as well as four other NSW hospitals.

Mr Rowell said the public and private hospitals in Bowral had been “working together for years”.

“This isn’t a new scene for service delivery in the Highlands,” he said.

“There is a long history of non-government sectors getting involved with public health.”

He said the government would continue to pay for public patients.

“There will be no loss in that,” he said.

However, some still have questions.

Rural Doctors Association of Australia president Dr Ewen McPhee said the plans raised a number of concerns.

“The social accountability of private companies takes a back seat to the return for the board and the shareholders, so a private hospital needs to be able to make a profit,” Dr McPhee said.

“With a combination of fewer patients and the potential difficulty in recruiting doctors and specialists, it is entirely possible that [the hospitals] simply won’t offer the scope of services that are so needed in a rural area.

“The other key question to be addressed is if there would be any increase in cost to rural patients who may now only have access to privatised services.”

It was recently announced Bowral and District Hospital had secured promised funds amounting to $50 million.

Mr Rowell said the clinical service plan had been signed off, and he would announce further plans on September 26.

“Regardless if the upgrade costs $50 million or $100 million, this will mean the hiring of more staff,” he said.

“This is very exciting news for us in the Southern Highlands.”

Expressions of interest close October 7: https://tenders.nsw.gov.au/health/?event=public.rft.show&RFTUUID=7F4AA48D-C0F9-4597-2F6F772CAE3A68CE

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