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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18471

Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (9:40 AM) —In March this year I raised in parliament the sale of the Sunbury Private Hospital by Mayne Health to Primelife. On that day I raised concerns I had about the way in which that would occur and about the failure of Mayne Health to properly provide services to residents of Sunbury and the outlying regions. I also criticised Mayne Health for closing down the maternity ward—and I am on the record as doing that—because it was a much needed service in that region, an area that is growing by eight per cent per annum. I said in parliament on that day:

Mayne have now sold their business to Primelife, and I will be looking to engage in discussions with this new company. However, there is some speculation that this company is only going to enter into the business of aged care services. I welcome the increased provision of aged care services, but I am very concerned that this is going to adversely affect the services that we already have in Sunbury and in the region.

At the time I raised those concerns I was criticised by a number of parties, including Prime-life. The local papers said that I had embarrassed myself by foreshadowing potential cuts to the hospital. I wish it was just a matter of embarrassment, but unfortunately it appears that I have been proven correct. Only a week ago Primelife made a decision to cut services to the nonsurgical admissions and to the in-patient psychiatric services of the hospital. That has resulted in the loss of over 20 jobs in the area and has precipitated the forced removal of patients from those services to other services. As I understand it, one patient refused to leave—and that was reported on the main story on Channel 9 news last Sunday.

I have spoken about my concerns with Greg Flood from Primelife: that services have been reduced and that the locals in Sunbury now have fewer services than they require in this fast-growing region. I have set up a meeting with him on Friday. I have asked the member for Calwell, who also has constituents who use the Sunbury Private Hospital, to meet with Greg Flood. I have also spoken with the state member for Macedon, who has indicated that she will be in attendance at this meeting if she can. It concerns me that these private hospitals put profits, on occasion, before patients. There needs to be a greater level of accountability by these hospitals when they are considering their services; otherwise patients are put last—and that is not good for anybody and it is certainly not good for my constituents in Sunbury.