The state government will seek a not-for-profit organisation to build and run the new Maitland Hospital, ditching controversial plans for a public-private partnership.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard will announce today that the government will adopt an arrangement more like Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital or Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, in a move that’s attracted the support of the Australian Medical Association.
The new plan likely means more money and services than what the government would have provided on its own, or under a PPP.
Mr Hazzard told Fairfax Media he wanted construction of the hospital to start before the end of this year – earlier than the previous mid-2018 estimate.
He has asked the NSW Ministry of Health and Hunter New England Local Health District to “expedite the process”, with tenders sought from today. Construction is expected to create 1250 jobs over four years.
“I’m aiming to bring it on as quickly as possible,” Mr Hazzard said.
“Today, as Minister, I hit the start button. I want it underway ASAP.”
The not-for-profit organisation chosen will provide money to build and run the hospital on top of the $450 million the state has promised.
Chemotherapy, mental health, emergency, intensive care, palliative care, maternity and paediatric care, surgical theatres and inpatient surgical beds are planned for the new facility at Metford.
“There are a range of opportunities out there and I want to tap into that and really make some medical magic for the local community,” Mr Hazzard said.
“Under this arrangement, the NSW Government’s $450 million investment would be combined with substantial funds from the successful not-for-profit provider to ensure the people of Maitland get first-class public health services that go beyond anything the government alone could deliver.”
The decision comes after the government scrapped plans for PPPs at Bowral and Wyong hospitals last week.
AMA NSW president Professor Brad Frankum said the doctors’ union welcomed the decision, particularly the “commitment to a hospital being able to offer a significantly expanded range of services” in the Hunter.
“This is essential for the health of the community of Maitland and the surrounding districts,” he said.
Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison said on Wednesday there were still major questions around the hospital that needed answers.
“I will continue to hold the government to account to deliver a hospital that is in the best interests of our community,” she said. “After six years, the community and staff deserve to know exactly what is on the table.”