Bendigo Health not enforcing contract terms

Scientists employed by Australian Clinical Labs (ACL) have raised a number of serious patient safety and OH&S issues with Safer Care Victoria. The Bendigo lab has been chronically understaffed since ACL took over, now to the point that the roster can’t be filled, and scientists are finding it impossible to cope with routine testing volumes.

Instead of directly investigating the concerns themselves, Safer Care Victoria offloaded the responsibility to NATA, who coincidentally were scheduled to visit the lab on a follow up on items arising from the last accreditation audit.

It was pretty clear on the day that NATA came to the lab that they were not well informed on the issues raised in correspondence to Safer Care Victoria, issues that the MSAV was advised they were tasked to investigate.

After a perfunctory investigation by NATA Safer Care Victoria wrote to the MSAV and our member to inform us that NATA found there weren’t any ‘major concerns’ in the lab. Needless to say, we do not accept this finding and are pushing for a full and independent investigation onto the issues in the laboratory.

Firstly, we are shocked that the Department of Health/Safer Care Victoria, which is an investigative authority passed the responsibility to investigate the safety matters to NATA, which is Commonwealth accreditation agency, not a safety body, and in our view not equipped to investigate broad safety issues.

Secondly, we are dismayed that Bendigo Health continue to refuse to act on evidence of quality and patient safety failures provided over the past 4 or 5 years, even in cases where the evidence points to serious contract non-compliance.

The current situation in the Bendigo Health pathology laboratory is a case study of the worsening failures of public health services to apply proper governance arrangements to pathology contracts.

The Bendigo issues also highlight our concerns about how stretched our public healthcare system is and the impact that re-starting elective surgery will have on members.

We are following up on what appears to be an utter failure of Safer Care Victoria to fulfil its responsibilities to patient safety.

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