ANSWERS about the future of Bowral and District Hospital are being demanded.
Amid growing public interest, the lack of clarity about plans for the hospital was raised at the October 12 ordinary meeting of council.
Few go through their lives without accessing healthcare services. This was a sentiment expressed by several councillors who raised concern about the NSW Government’s proposed public/private partnership of five hospitals throughout the state, including the Bowral hospital.
In response to questions from the Southern Highland News, Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell said public patients would still be looked after by the new system.
“The NSW Government is not privatising the health care system. These new hospitals will provide free healthcare to public patients, just as other NSW public hospitals do.”
However, in a motion passed at the October 12 council meeting, Wingecarribee Shire councillors called for further reassurance from the government.
Newly elected Greens candidate Councillor Gordon Markwart put forward a motion that called for a meeting between council, the minister for health, Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell and Goulburn MP Pru Goward to discuss the proposed public/private partnership of Bowral Hospital.
The motion required council to seek assurances that the public would not suffer, and that staff numbers at the hospital would not be reduced. In response to questions about job security of existing staff, Mr Rowell said current permanent staff who wanted to work for the new hospital would be offered a position, provided there was an equivalent position.
A NSW Health spokesperson said health executives had met with staff to discuss their concerns and issues, and would keep them informed.
Though Councillors Graham McLaughlin and Peter Nelson were absent from the meeting, all present councillors voted in unanimous support of Cr Markwart’s first motion to council. Cr Nelson told the Southern Highland News he was one of several councillors to be contacted by residents who had expressed concerns. “I am definitely in favour of a public meeting to debate the issue,” he said. “I don’t think [privatisation] would be to the benefit of residents.”
The councillors hope to secure the meeting as a matter of urgency, and represent public concerns about the proposed change.