Medical Officer Update: Together Secretary meets with Health Minister re Private Practice

Posted November 14, 2012 by Alex Scott

Today Alex and I, along with other organisations representing medical officers, met with Health Minister Lawrence Springborg about the government's response to allegations made about under-reporting of income earned under private practice arrangements. The meeting with the Health Minister follows recent media reports raising these allegations.

The Minister has commissioned an investigation into private practice arrangements and other vulnerabilities of Qld Health's financial management by the Auditor-General. This may uncover individual cases of wrongdoing but is also aimed at identifying systemic issues and vulnerabilities. The Minister confirmed today that Queensland Health's indemnity policy will continue to apply and QH will support and advise medical staff throughout this process. The Indemnity for Queensland Health Medical Practitioners policy is here (http://www.health.qld.gov.au/qhpolicy/docs/pol/qh-pol-153.pdf).

Alex conveyed to the Minister the importance of a private practice arrangement that minimises financial risk but also maximises revenue for the ailing public health system. It is also fundamentally important that a management focus on income and risk doesn't interfere with members providing top quality health care.

It was also raised at the meeting that Medical Officers are often reliant on the hospital in relation to billing and implementation of the private practice system. The Minister confirmed that the investigation will look at systemic issues and practices and is not exclusively aimed at medical officers or other staff. Queensland Health Director-General Dr Tony O'Connell committed to providing clarification on acceptable billing practices ASAP to reduce uncertainty for medical officers and staff involved in billing.

While Together supports a crackdown on fraud, natural justice and due process must be followed and if the system is broken and mistakes have been made then those mistakes should be corrected and the system fixed.

Together medical officers and delegates have for years been calling for the overhaul of private practice arrangements to address inconsistent application, anomalies and lack of transparency. Queensland Health have finally committed to a review of private practice arrangements with the relevant unions through the Private Practice Management Committee. Your union will continue to pursue the effective implementation of this commitment, incorporating consideration of the findings of the Auditor-General.

If you have concerns or need individual industrial assistance please call your union on 1800 177 244 (or 3844 8402 while we are experiencing some difficulties with the phone lines) or email MOCA@together.org.au.

Dan Goldman
Public Health Team

 


Authorised Alex Scott, Secretary, Together.
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