Push to protect health care from privatisation 

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30 April 2020

Independent member for Florey Frances Bedford MP has introduced legislation that seeks to future-proof SA Pathology or any other public health care provider from the possibility of privatisation.

The ANMF (SA Branch) has indicated ‘in-principle’ support for the legislation provided that it is broadened to ensure that health services needed to ensure the health and safety of the community remain in or are implemented by the public system.

ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj. Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said that “the current COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of our public health system’’.

“The private hospitals sector and other private operators play an important role in supplementing the public system. However, the need for the public system to be capable of meeting the needs of the community for all critical aspects of their health care has been underscored,’’ Ms Dabars said.

Ms Bedford said: “If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it is the sickness of one of us is a concern for all of us. Testing has been our secret weapon and SA Pathology has proven itself as an organisation of international standing.

“As we have watched the virus overwhelm nations around the world, it is clear only a strong public health system is capable of gearing up to meet a challenge of this scale.

“Protecting our community from future health crises requires our health system to be protected from future privatisation threats. The constant threat of privatisation to health workers’ jobs has to stop.”

The State Government last week ruled out the privatisation of SA Pathology following its “world-class’’ response to the coronavirus and improvements in cost-effectiveness.

“While it is heartening to see the Marshall Government congratulate and recognise the importance of our publicly owned pathology service, staff throughout our wider health system need more than a pat on the back,” Ms Bedford said.

“Merely extending the deadline to meet budget cuts is no comfort to workers on the frontline and gives room for future governments to consider privatisation again.”

ANMF (SA Branch) will continue to lobby for measures which protect the vital role that public health care services play in the community and resist measures that privatise or outsource elements of our public health system.