Parliament: Questions Kelly's Asked

SA Pathology Jobs – Response

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the minister representing the Minister for Health, questions regarding SA Pathology jobs.

Leave granted.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Pathology is involved in up to 70 per cent of medical treatment decisions and 60 per cent of Australians require pathology services at least once a year. The government has announced, however, that it will cut 278 SA Pathology jobs in response to a 2014 Ernst & Young review. I also note that the South Australian Public Service employs people with disability at a rate of less than 2 per cent, failing to meet even its own modest targets. My questions to the minister are:

  1. Was the local collection of specimens in rural and regional South Australia examined in the Ernst & Young review?
  2. When the new Royal Adelaide Hospital opens, will sputum samples need to be split between two sites, the new Royal Adelaide and Frome Road, for testing?
  3. What percentage of SA Pathology revenue has traditionally been generated by the regional pathology services?
  4. Did the Ernst & Young review reflect that private pathology services at regional accident and emergency departments are bulk-billed through Medicare?
  5. How many medical scientist positions will be axed, and at which hospitals or laboratory sites?
  6. How many employees with a declared disability will lose or have lost their jobs since 2014?
  7. Does the minister acknowledge that with an ageing population, the need for diagnostic services, including pathology, will increase and not reduce?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change): I thank the honourable member for her many questions directed to the Minister for Health in the other place on the subject of pathology. I undertake to take those questions on her behalf to the minister and seek a response and bring it back.

Response Recieved: 28/03/17

In reply to the Hon. K.L. VINCENT (1 December 2016).

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change): The Minister for Health has received the following advice:

  1. The review undertaken by Ernst & Young included a recommendation to ‘Explore opportunities to contest regional services’. After consideration of the feedback received following consultation, this recommendation was not adopted or implemented.
  2. The majority of sputum samples will not be split. A small number of sputum samples for Mycology (fungus) and Tuberculosis (TB) analysis—which have special laboratory containment requirements—will be split. Note that SA Pathology operates South Australia’s only PC3 laboratory and is a national reference centre for TB. The requirement to split a small number of sputum samples, in order to refer them to our central laboratory centre of excellence, remains unchanged from the current arrangement and reflects world-class practice.
  3. Regional revenue for year ending 30 June 2016 was $13,615,000 (regional total revenue)/ $153,527,000 (total operating revenue) = 8.8 percent.
  4. Yes.
  5. The Efficiency Improvement Program is currently working through the detail of preferred laboratory configuration. Any full – time equivalent (FTE) changes or changes of hospital or laboratory sites are yet to be determined.
  6. As above, any FTE changes are yet to be determined. Since 2014, no employees, including those with a declared disability, have lost their jobs.
  7. Yes, which is why SA Pathology is focused on providing high quality diagnostic services. Our expert clinical pathologists, and world-leading researchers, work closely with our clinician colleagues and patients to reduce the burden of chronic disease. We are investing in cutting edge automation, such as the Roche Track system and Kiestra Microbiology platform at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. Technology is the key to continuous improvement in the quality, consistency, timeliness and efficiency of laboratory testing. Automation also allows our people to focus on value-adding roles, helping us to futureproof our world – class pathology service.