NSW Labor today formally supported the 27 doctors who work in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and signed an open letter to NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner opposing the privatisation of services at Shellharbour Hospital.

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley today asked a question without notice to the Health Minister Jillian Skinner asking her to drop her plans.

Mr Foley asked Mrs Skinner if she would listen to the doctors who had written to the Illawarra Mercury expressing their concerns and drop her privatisation plans.

Mrs Skinner responded by accusing Labor of running a scare campaign but stuck by her privatisation policy.

Labor’s show of support follows a massive community protest on November 6 at Shellharbour opposing the privatisation.  Organised by Unions NSW and supported by the Health Services Union NSW, the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and the Australian Salaried Medical Officers' Federation of NSW, it was attended by more than 500 local residents. The rally was also attended by Mr Foley, Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord, Wyong MP David Harris, Shellharbour MP, Anna Watson, and Wollongong MP-elect, Paul Scully.

On 15 September, Mrs Skinner made a surprise announcement that she was privatising the operation of five hospitals – Shellharbour, Bowral, Maitland, Wyong and Goulburn. Subsequently, she dropped Goulburn from the list, thereby revealing privatisation of health services was on the cards for Labor electorates but not Liberal ones.

In the NSW Legislative Council, Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord today also moved a formal notice of motion supporting the Illawarra doctors.

Mr Secord moved “that this House expresses its support for the 27 doctors across the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District who have written an open letter to the Health Minister Jillian Skinner demanding she drop plans to privatise services at Shellharbour Hospital.”

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“I commend these doctors for speaking up and standing up for their patients: their attitude is the very opposite of their Health Minister who always puts patients’ interests after her own.

“This Government thinks that every public asset is for sale, and our hospitals are no different. Nothing is sacred from this Government.

“Our great public hospital system – the envy of the world – should remain in public hands and not be sold to the highest bidder.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord

“The families of the Illawara do not want to see the Americanisation of their healthcare and hospitals.

“Families want to know that their healthcare is determined by their Medicare card not their credit card.

“The Baird-Barilaro Government needs to put a stop to this plan now.”