The peak body representing medical professionals has welcomed the state government’s decision to take on the task of building and running the new Maitland hospital alone – now the Australian Medical Association says it’s time to get the facility operational as soon as possible.
Fairfax Media revealed on Thursday that the government had abandoned partnership plans, with both the not-for-profit and private sectors, for the $450 million health facility at Metford.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s decision was roundly welcomed by Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison and health workers unions, who led opposition to the partnership proposal for more than a year.
The call has also drawn a positive response from the Australian Medical Association’s NSW president Professor Brad Frankum.
Professor Frankum told Fairfax Media that it was time to build the much-needed hospital “as quickly as possible”.
“The current infrastructure – the old hospital – is just decrepit and falling down. Nobody would be expecting patients to be treated in such an old and dilapidated facility,” he said.
“The AMA was always supportive of any solution that ended up with a better deal for the people of Maitland and the surrounding district and now there seems to be some certainty.
“It’s good news that a decision has been made, that it will be a publicly funded, public hospital and they are going to get on with it.”
The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association called Mr Hazzard’s decision “a very sweet victory” for hundreds of nurses and midwives.
“As advocates for safe patient care and a robust public health system, local nurses and midwives knew they had a professional obligation to speak up on behalf of the Maitland community and continue to lobby for a publicly built and run new state-of-the-art hospital,” acting general secretary Judith Kiejda said.
“Confirmation that the new Maitland Hospital at Metford will remain in public hands is a substantial win for our members – it signifies the collective power of local workers, community members and health sector unions to achieve the best possible outcome when common sense prevails.”
Labor’s health spokesperson Walt Secord said Premier Gladys Berejiklian was “looking after her own job”.
“This is a cautious welcome and the community will give its final verdict when the hospital is completed,” he said.
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