Mildura Base Hospital, run by Ramsay Health, will return to the public system in September 2020.
The hospital was one of several public hospitals privatised by the Kennett Coalition government in the 1990s.
The experiment failed and Mildura Base Hospital is the last publicly-owned, privately-operated hospital to return to the public sector. Latrobe Regional Hospital was the first to be reclaimed by then premier Steve Bracks 19 years ago.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos made the announcement in Mildura on 23 August after extensive community consultation.
‘The community has spoken, and we’ve listened. After two decades of privatised healthcare, we’re returning Mildura Base Hospital back to public hands, where it belongs,’ Mr Andrews said.
The ANMF welcomed the news as a bold decision that put the interests of regional Victorians first.
ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said ‘This move will re-invigorate the hospital and its ability to recruit and retain nurses and midwives to the far north west corner of the state.
‘The hospital’s nurses and midwives are excited about the news and we already know one midwife, who resigned a while back, has been inspired to update her CV in preparation of a return to the facility’s birthing services.
‘The move also opens up opportunities to introduce innovative health programs so there is less need for residents to travel to Melbourne for health care,’ she said.
The union was heartened earlier this year when Mildura’s independent MP Ali Cupper made her powerful maiden speech in Victorian Parliament signalling health care was at the top of her list of priorities.
In that speech Ms Cupper articulated a deep empathy with those who rely on universal free health care and described a harrowing experience in the US with a father whose gravely ill daughters were not covered by his health insurance.
‘She expressed her angst that local health dollars for the Mildura community were saved instead for shareholders and she noted no other MP was asking for a public-private hospital in their electorate,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.
‘Congratulations to the Mildura community for their relentless campaigning, their neighbouring communities and generations to come will benefit from their hard work,’ she said.