Labor weaken stance on public health

MEDIA RELEASE – 22 October 2015

The Greens NSW health spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today slammed Labor’s Shadow Health Minister, Walt Secord for supporting the removal of a section of the Private Health Facilities Act 2007 that provided protection for the public health system from predatory behaviour by private health providers.

When the bed cap on private hospitals was lifted in 2007, the then Labor government inserted  Section 7(4)(c)(i) that empowered the Health Minister to refuse any application by private health providers that undermined the provision of viable, comprehensive and coordinated health services.  This power has not been used to date.

“The Greens are concerned that Labor has weakened its commitment to public health services by voting to remove this protection and leaving some public health services vulnerable to private encroachment,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Walt Secord should explain exactly why Labor supported the removal of this clause and weakened the powers of the minister to stop predatory encroachment by the private health industry that may make public health services unviable and lead to their closure?

“It’s hypocritical of Walt Secord to set himself up as the champion of public health services, but quietly side with the Liberals and the private health industry to remove a key protection and adopt a market based approach that risks our public health system, especially in regional NSW.

“This Bill removes any chance for planned provision of health services, allowing the private sector to cherry-pick patients out of the public sector in higher socio-economic status areas while the public sector is left to do the heavy lifting in disadvantaged communities.

“This is a free kick to the private health industry who will be able to move in on the public sector and set up shop wherever they choose.

“Given the clause had not yet been used, it makes no sense to remove it unless you want to weaken the ability of future governments to protect public health services from private encroachment.”

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