What’s on your mind? Letters

Hospital concern: A call for greater consultation regarding the future of Bowral and District Hospital is the focus of the latest letter to the editor.
Hospital concern: A call for greater consultation regarding the future of Bowral and District Hospital is the focus of the latest letter to the editor.

'Wealth before Health at Bowral District Hospital'

A group of concerned residents has formed a working party in an effort to gain more information about the proposed privatisation of Bowral and District Hospital.

The Working Party is critical of the State Government and the Local Health District for a lack of in-depth information to the public. Supplying draft sketches and relying on little more than 'chat sessions' is not a Public Consultation process.

This so called 'show and tell' by the government and Local Health is perhaps a new method of controlling us. We are given a taster which consists of fairy dust, misinformation (that is because there is nothing to show or tell at this stage) and, as time progresses, perhaps April/May 2017, we become indifferent to the topic and lose interest. A very dangerous place to be when government is playing with our health care!

Information sessions at Bowral, Mittagong and Moss Vale have been held, yet these 'meetings' have to be seen as a farce with less than 10 residents attending any one of them. The sessions are chats and nothing like a public meeting. Sadly, there has been no effort to engage with residents in the villages of the shire. Bowral District Hospital was granted a sum of $50 million. This money was directed to capital works at the hospital, in effect join the existing buildings together by means of a new building.

The Working Party is concerned the quality and range of services and opportunity for everyone in the district to be treated at the hospital is being dangerously undermined. There are grave concerns that, with a public private partnership, many more patients for an increasing number of conditions may be referred on to Campbelltown or Liverpool Hospitals. For a private provider focused on profits, this would be a far more attractive option than spending precious money on upgrading the hospital here, and entering joint ventures with the University of Wollongong.

The drive to privatise public services has met with great opposition.. People see the move as a way for governments to wash their hands of facilities and services that are becoming too difficult to manage. Currently, there are five NSW hospitals listed for public private partnerships, a clear indication of the Baird Government's agenda in relation to public health. Private providers do not undergo the same level of scrutiny as state-owned facilities. This alone should be sufficient reason for us to be concerned. Apart from this, the state government has failed to supply documentation of their procedures and the results of their investigations into Bowral District. Without these reports it is impossible to make informed decisions.

It is far from cynical to imagine that the proposed privatisation is already a fait accompli! Residents need to demand full discolsure of the clinical services plan for the hospital and a transparent community consultation. The federal government's productivity commission has concluded that, after studying outcomes between public and private providers, there is little difference: "After controlling for differences in services provided and types of patients treated, the efficiency of public and private hospitals is, on average, similar."

Naturally, when these partnerships fail (and this is a recurring theme when governments go down this path), the taxpayer has to pick up the tab. Some examples in health care alone are Victoria's La Trobe Regional Hospital, Modbury Hospital in South Australia and Port Macquarie Hospital.

If we act now, we can save our public hospital where we will receive quality health care in a safe and caring environment. Chairperson of the Working Party, Edna Carmichael, a candidate in the recent local council elections, ran on the theme of 'people before profit'. Other members of the Working Party have a long association with public health in management and planning, and encourage residents to voice their concerns over the proposed PPP of Bowral and District Hospital.

Edna Carmichael


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