Health services drastically reduced in regional and rural Victoria: MSAV

The Medical Scientists Association of Victoria has significant concerns about the ongoing quality of health care for regional Victorians after St John of God announced a proposal to close pathology services in public hospitals in four regional centres in Victoria.

Paul Elliott, MSAV assistant secretary, said:

“We are not convinced by assurances from St John of God that they will continue to offer a safe and reliable pathology service when they’re proposing to close down four laboratories in public hospitals and sack medical scientists.

“Pathology is a vital tool used in our public hospitals for around 85% of all patient clinical diagnosis and to assess how treatments are progressing.

“It’s completely wrong for St John of God to say they can continue to offer safe and reliable pathology services when tests won’t be done on site and will be sent to other locations. This will inevitably mean it will take a lot longer for results to tests to be reported.

“When you take out the scientists and close pathology laboratories, you can’t in good faith claim, as St John of God is that pathology services will continue to be world-class.

“There are many instances where even a small delay in getting test results and determining a diagnosis can have profound impacts on outcomes for patients.

“The truth of the matter is that health care for regional Victorians will be greatly diminished because they won’t have access to speedy and reliable results to pathology tests.

“It’s also wrong of St John of God to claim that urgent testing can be done with equipment in wards. It is well-known that they are unreliable and only perform a very limited range of tests. These machines are absolutely no substitute for the properly staffed and resourced pathology laboratory.

“Unfortunately this is another perfect example of how Government cuts to health and the contracting out of pathology services are hurting local communities.

“This decision highlights how the model of privatising critical health services like pathology doesn’t work. A model that allows business interests to be put before the health care interests of whole communities is obviously wrong and needs to be changed.

“It’s time for the Victorian Government to stop playing games and properly invest in healthcare to make sure Victorians can get the care they need when they need it,” concluded Mr Elliott.

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