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Issue #1755      November 2, 2016

“Save Our Hospitals”

Privatisation rejected

The NSW state government recently revealed that the redevelopment and running of Maitland and Wyong hospitals, along with a number of other regional hospitals, would be handed over to a private operator. In effect they would become private, for-profit hospitals with a contract with the state government to provide some, as yet unspecified, service to public patients. Public patients will become an add-on at the very hospitals that were originally built to meet the needs of the local community.

Once a hospital is privatised it is then run to maximise profits (from our ill health), and to return these profits as a dividend to the wealthy majority shareholders. The hospital is locked into making as much money as possible, otherwise shareholders will withdraw their money and put it into something more profitable. Do we really want this type of system in public health?

Big, often multinational, private health companies see big money to be made in health – after all everybody gets sick at some time. The government is doing their bidding in handing over our hospital system to these companies, just as they handed over other essential services such as gas, water and electricity

The selling off of our public hospitals takes us further down the road to an American health system – very expensive and two-tiered, with public patients treated as charity cases and offered an inferior service.

Health care is a basic human right. Oppose the attacks on our public hospitals.

Demand the state government properly fund our hospitals so they can continue to provide a first class service to all.

Rallies, organised by the health unions, have already been held in Wyong and Maitland and attracted thousands of people. The Newcastle branch of the CPA produced a leaflet and a petition which have been distributed in the Hunter Valley over the last month. Already we have collected more than 300 signatures opposing the sell-off, and distributed hundreds of leaflets. The branch also participated in the Maitland rally.

We urge people to maintain and increase the pressure on the Baird government to abandon the sell-off of our hospitals. They have already backed down on the privatisation of Goulburn hospital, which also happens to be in the electorate of a sitting government minister. We need more demonstrations and rallies, more signed petitions. We need to show Baird and the corporations behind him that we will not accept the selling off of our hospitals.

The attacks on our health system remind us that, in the long term, our struggle must be for a society where health care is not just another opportunity for the big private corporations to make money. We need a society where health care is a basic service that is provided equally to all in our community, and at no charge. A socialist society. While capitalism remains, our health will always be under threat from parasites.

* Grant Osland is Secretary of the Newcastle Branch of the CPA.

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