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Privateers wreak havoc in NSW public hospitals

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David G.

St George Hospital in south-eastern Sydney is facing shortages of basic supplies.

Some things ordered don't arrive, or parts of an order arrive, or they get ten of something instead of one. Sterile goods arrive with outer protection opened, so its is unusable.

“Doctors and nurses'll soon be lucky to find a needle,” an insider said. Supervisors and managers in hospitals have been forced to sort out problems. “It's an enormous diversion of effort that didn't exist six to eight months ago,” Vanguard was told.

Press reports from the NSW mid-north coast also tell of essential supplies not arriving at hospitals in Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie. 

This is exactly what happened in Western Australia at the 'flagship' Fiona Stanley Hospital and in Victoria. 

It is what the Ministry of Health hit on in response to the government's demand that all the ministries privatise something. The Minister, Skinner, when confronted by hospital workers at Shellharbour Hospital declared she will privatise everything bit by bit. 

No office, no systems, no warehouses
One Link delivers supplies to the public hospitals. When it was awarded the newly privatised warehousing contract for all NSW public hospitals 18 months ago, it did not exist in NSW. 

It had no computer system, no warehouses, no offices. One Link is a subsidiary of a Kiwi company, which runs warehouses in Victoria and NZ. It's owned by the family of a former Philippine foreign minister and is funded by HBSC, representing a mix of US, British and Japanese capital.

It's already taken over warehouse operations in rural and regional NSW, and a smaller warehouse in Sydney. Now One Link is about to take on the operations of the single biggest warehouse in the NSW public hospital system at Concord in Sydney, covering half the state's warehousing.

Reverse gear
Meanwhile, on the other side of Sydney Harbour, at Royal North Shore Hospital, another, now failed, privatisation is being reversed. 

Food services, cleaning, and cafeteria visitor facilities were privatised several years ago, but the operator was incapable of running them to  an acceptable standard. They couldn't ensure basic hygiene!

It's an indictment of the government and of the whole concept that hospitals consist only of doctors and nurses, and that all those people around them, like cleaners, physios, radiographers, and pathologists are ripe for privatisation and sacking as happened in Victoria and Western Australia.  

The government recently announced an out-sourced 'pilot project' for the hospital linen service in regional Wagga Wagga and in the Illawara south of Sydney. On February 25, 100 workers whose jobs will be eliminated demonstrated outside NSW Parliament House, before marching to the Ministry of Health, with police accompaniment.  

Their organisation and fightback for decent services in NSW public hospitals reverberated through the ranks of public hospital workers in NSW.

There are more than 20,000 public hospital workers in the Health Services Union. They are getting more organised and active to fight against privatisation in the public health system. About twenty anti-privatisation committees of hospital workers and community members have been established across NSW. 

United and active they can be a formidable opponent to the privateers.


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