The state government has been accused of sneaking through plans to privatise the operation of a further five hospitals across the state.
More than $1 billion was committed at the last state election to upgrade hospitals at Maitland, Wyong, Goulburn and Shellharbour and for improvements at a fifth, in Bowral.
The government confirmed on Thursday that under its plans private companies would be invited to submit tenders to build and run the hospitals, but said public patients would continue to receive free care.
Health minister Jillian Skinner said the state government was ensuring the sustainability of the health system.
Under the partnership plan, the winning bidders would construct the hospitals then run them on behalf of the State Government.
It is the same model as the new Northern Beaches Hospital, which is currently being built by private operator Healthscope.
Ms Skinner said the hospitals would continue to treat public patients.
“The approach is about putting patients and communities first,” she said.
“The partnerships that result will ensure that patients receive the high quality of service regardless of their status as private or public patients.
“Under any contract entered into, hospital operators will be required to treat every public patient that presents to the hospital.”
The Minister insisted non-government operators would have the same obligations to the state as public hospital operators and would have to meet the same standards of service.
She said current permanent staff who want to work at the new hospitals would be offered positions with a two-year employment guarantee.
In the lead up to the 2015 state election, the Government committed more than $1 billion to upgrading the hospitals.
Ms Skinner said partnering with non-government operators would allow the Government to provide bigger and faster redevelopments.
“A partnership approach will allow us to leverage the capital and expertise of non-government hospital operators,” she said.
“It might mean we can build a new hospital, rather than upgrade an existing one.
“It might mean we can offer more complex services locally.”