The Patients Before Profits tv advertisements which ran on our screens in February appear to have struck a nerve with the NSW LNP government. Health Minister Jillian Skinner called the ad a scare campaign and said “This union campaign is absolutely baseless and any talk of Americanisation is complete nonsense.” Now the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association is answering back – here General Secretary Brett Holmes tells the scary truth about encroaching privatisation within the public health system.
Our Patients Before Profits campaign has been repeatedly called ‘a lie’ by members of the Liberal-National state government. Yet the simple fact is the Liberal-National Coalition has an ideological commitment to involve private corporations in healthcare, taking us down the path of a US-style health system.
So far, this government has privatised sub-acute and rehabilitation mental health services and new palliative care services. Disability services will cease to be government-run by 2018. There’s no sugar-coating the facts, this is happening already.
The Liberal-Nationals have signed a Public-Private Partnership contract for Northern Beaches hospital for a minimum of 20 years with private operator Healthscope. All services will be delivered by the corporation and all current public health staff at Manly and Mona Vale Hospitals will become private hospital employees if they choose to work at Northern Beaches. The NSW government will subsidise Healthscope to the tune of $600 million to build the hospital and then will make payments for services provided to public patients.
The Coalition has refused to rule out privatising new hospitals planned for the Lower Hunter and is ‘market testing’ the delivery of surgical services at the new Byron Central hospital.
This is privatisation of public health by any definition.
A combination of privatising hospitals and public health services along with attacks by the Federal Government on Medicare and the increasing level of private insurers coming into primary care is leading to an Americanisation of our health system – which is heavily privatised, costs patients more and has worse health outcomes.
Nurses and midwives are simply raising awareness about what is happening to our public health system. If we follow the trend of the US, with its largely privatised health system, patients can expect to pay more out of their own pockets.
Nurses tell it as they see it and, like the professional care they give, their interests are aligned with the best possible patient outcomes, which should not depend on individual wealth.
More on privatisation:
Why privatisation is relevant to nurses and midwives
Privatisation: we call it as we see it