Barwon Health Pathology Contract Linked to Hospital Health Care Standards

15022_0325The Medical Scientists Association of Victoria (MSAV) has warned that health care standards could be reduced under a new pathology services contract recently signed by Barwon Health.

As members would know St John of God recently sold its pathology business to Australian Clinical Labs, and as a result Barwon Health has entered into a short term contract with Australian Clinical Labs for it to deliver pathology services until around October 2017.

The sale agreement between St John of God and Australian Clinical Labs includes an arrangement for up to 200 jobs to be cut from pathology services, and by Australian Clinical Labs admission, for the sole reason of increasing business profits.

Australian Clinical Labs has flatly rejected the MSAV’s demand that it make a commitment to not axe pathology jobs, which demonstrates a clear willingness to undermine healthcare standards when a very important quality pathology standard is test result turnaround times. The successful treatment of many diseases and conditions is time critical. The sooner a pathology test is completed the sooner treatment can commence, which directly impacts successful health care outcomes for all patients in this category.

The MSAV says that pathology turnaround times are as important in modern healthcare as ambulance waiting times.

Around 85% of Barwon Health patients have at least one pathology test performed on them when they are admitted to the hospital or treated in the Emergency Department. Pathology is a vital clinical service in any acute care public hospital which plays a central role in a patient’s diagnosis and treatment.

That’s why the MSAV has called on Barwon Health to closely monitor pathology services quality standards and ensure that Australian Clinical Labs is compliant with these and other contract specifications. The MSAV has also called on Barwon Health to release to the public pathology quality standards and Australian Clinical Labs reports on its quality performance to ensure that the hospital’s community is fully informed about health care standards.

The Union will continue to strongly advocate that Barwon Health must not diminish any healthcare standards just to prop up the profits of a private provider not interested in maintaining the very highest quality standards in pathology. As the situation at Barwon Health continues to unfold, the Union will be sure to continue letting members know what is happening.

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