Government must widen review: Union

easter_entitlementsThe Medical Scientists Association of Victoria (MSAV) is calling on the Andrews Government to widen its review of pathology services and contracts at Latrobe Regional Hospital to ensure all public hospitals with private pathology providers are enforcing contract terms to deliver world-class quality pathology services. And that it open the review to consider the range of services and contracts for other services organised by public health services and Health Purchasing Victoria.

The review at Latrobe Regional Hospital is only the tip of the iceberg.

A 2011 Auditor General’s report into procurement practices in the public health sector was very critical of failures in basic contract governance and made specific recommendations about annual reviews to monitor contract compliance. FOI information recently obtained by the Union shows that these recommendations have been ignored.

Once the Government starts taking a closer look at the pathology contracts at other public hospitals that have privatised pathology services they’ll find the same problems. And we suspect this is happening in other disciplines where the tendency has been to outsource services.

It’s vital that the Government investigate privatisation in the face of organisations that bid at the lowest possible price to undercut its competitors but ultimately it is the community left being undercut as services are cut back, professional staff are sacked and quality healthcare is diminished.

It will be terrible for the community if the hospital’s management allows quality health standards to decline for the sake of protecting a private contractor’s profits. The community must be guaranteed that the hospital’s management and board won’t turn a blind eye to contract failures like the management at Latrobe Regional Hospital

The question for the management of any public health service is: are they prepared to front the community with hand-on-heart and promise that they will enforce contract requirements?

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