Still many questions on new hospital plan

Four weeks after residents, politicians andmembers of health workers’ unions called on theHunter community toopposea plan for a public-private funding model for the new Maitland Hospital, Hunter New England Health has unveiled more detailed plans for the facility.
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Chief executive Michael DiRienzo said HNEH waskeen to assure the people of the Lower Hunter that the $400million-plus complex at Metford wouldhave more and improved services than the existing hospital, along with state-of-the-art medical equipment.

He emphasised that the promised services would be delivered regardless of the funding model and that public patients would receive free healthcare as they did now at the existing Maitland Hospital.

Mr DiRienzo also acknowledged community fears about the proposed public-private partnership.

He said the PPP model would only proceed if it presented value for money for the government and enhanced the services available to patients.

He also stressed that a PPP was far from a certainty and acknowledged that there was a great deal of resistance to privatisation.

The Nurses and Midwives Association and the Health Services Union organised a public rally against the privatisation plan last month.

Mr DiRienzo saidthat doctors, nurses and allied health workers had a myriad of questions about the new hospital and its funding model.

These related to jobs, patient-to-staff ratios, standards of care and patient wellbeing.

Mr DiRienzo assured Fairfax Media that HNEH would remain transparent, consultative, and ensure all parties were given the opportunity to have a voice.

He said patient care would be far from compromised under a public private partnership, with more funding leading to more services and the ability to improve quality and safety.

While the community andhealth workers want more clarity about specifics such as bed numbers, HNEHcontinues to say the development is still in the planning stages.

Maitland is a bustling regional hub and a major city, but we are also a tight knit community. We want to be informed. We want to have our say. And we want a voice.

We are the ones for whom this hospital is a matter of life and death. Not the bureaucrats in Sydney.

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