THE Astor Hotel was packed to the rafters on Monday night as the community turned out to have their say on local health services.
Up for discussion was the privatisation of Goulburn Base Hospital and the decision to close the Bourke Street Health Service.
The panel comprised Cr Leah Ferrara, Health Services Union organiser Peter Mason, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMWA) organiser Mary Walker, Member for Goulburn Pru Goward and Health Hub owner Wal Ashton.
Cr Leah Ferrara declared her opposition to the privatisation of Goulburn Base Hospital.
“I speak for my community and my community is not happy. I don’t agree with privatisation because as soon as that happens health comes second and profit comes first. This all came out of nowhere and we have not had any answers or anyone talking to us about it,” Cr Ferrara said.
“This is why I am speaking up. We have private services in Canberra and Bowral – it is not that far to travel. I believe keeping our hospitals and education public is very important for communities. We don’t want to have another Port Macquarie Hospital on our hands – why haven’t we learnt from these mistakes?”
She was also adamant the Bourke Street Health Service was not going to close.
“It is not going to happen. Bourke Street cannot close. It has equipment that the community has paid for –what is going to happen to that? It will be a massive blow and Pru can sing all she wants, but my voice will be heard in there as well,” Cr Ferrara said.
Cr Ferrara said she would be raising a notice of motion for the council to support keeping the Bourke Street Health Service open.
HSU organiser Peter Mason said union members had spoken clearly against the privatisation of Goulburn and Bowral Hospitals.
“The HSU will fight this privatisation. Public Private Partnerships do not work. The Royal North Shore Hospital had to be taken back by the government,” he said.
“When you go to a public hospital you should use your Medicare Card and not your credit card.
“We are committed to keeping public hospitals in public hands. Pru said it is not over until she sings - I took that to mean that Bourke Street won’t close – that she was working hard to stopping it closing.”
NSWNMWA organiser Mary Walker said a Public Private Partnerships had a potential conflict of interest.
“The conflict is between profit going to shareholders versus the care of patients as the first priority,” Mrs Walker said.
“The bottom line comes first – the biggest cost for hospitals are nurses and midwives and one of the first things that gets cut is them – the skill mix changes and the number of skilled nurses with extra qualifications decreases.”
Mrs Walker asked why Bourke Street could not be considered as a private hospital.
“I do not understand why Bourke Street (the former St John of God Hospital) cannot be opened as a separate private hospital?” She said.