The Guardian January 26, 2000

Mater Hospital fighting for its life

"A major element in our strategy for growth is to work with the public 
health care system through the development of private hospitals which are 
co-located with  that is, physically linked to  major public hospitals. 
Co-location provides a more efficient use of resources that benefits both 
public and private patients." This statement comes from Ramsay Health Care, 
one of the largest providers of private health care in Australia.

The organisation operates 13 private hospitals in Australia and has health 
care interests in the United States, Asia, United Kingdom and Europe.

Co-location is being used to give the private health system greater 
opportunities to milk the public health system and as a step in towards the 
eventual privatisation of public hospitals.

It is the threat of co-location with Newcastle's Mater Hospital that 
brought the medical staff, nurses, unions and the general public together 
in an attempt to fight off privatisation of Mater Hospital.

Newcastle's Mater Hospital is fighting for its life. Budget cuts have 
turned the hospital into one of the worst, as far as conditions go, in NSW.

In a joint statement the staff stated that they were proud of the standard 
of care they provided on an individual basis but "we are angry and ashamed, 
however, when we consider the degraded conditions in which that care has to 
be provided and the lack of access to treatment which has been imposed on 
our community".

Patients certainly appreciate the effort the staff is putting into their 
work and fully support their demands and are angry at the state the 
hospital is in.

A major public campaign has been launched to save the hospital from 

Trades and Labor Council is 100 per cent behind the anti-privatisation 
fight. The local community is involved in the campaign as well.

At the weekend, Mater Hospital nurses ran a stall and distributed leaflets 
at the Maritime Regatta explaining what is happening.

A public meeting is planned for February 2 and the NSW Nurses' Association 
hopes to get a large crowd supporting the fight to keep Mater public.

Industrial action is planned if the Hunter Area Health Service ignores 
union demands for $1.5 million interim funding for the hospital.

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