Update for Pathology, BTS and QHFSS

Posted on October 2, 2015

You and other Together members within Pathology, BTS and QHFSS have been discussing the implications and potential impacts of the Hunter review and recommendation nine, which discusses HSQ becoming a statutory authority similar to an Hospital and Health Service (HHS). You can view those documents here and here.

During these discussions Together delegates said that:

  • Together members did not agree with the recommendations of the Hunter review that HSQ should become a statutory authority.
  • Together members believed that the functional areas of HSQ, including Pathology, BTS and QHFSS  being combined with corporate areas like Payroll is creating too broad a scope and there is a loss of focus on the clinical and scientific requirements.
  • Delegates and contacts agreed that discussions should commence with the Director-General of Queensland Health  with regard to where Pathology, BTS and QHFSS should sit within the Department of Health structure.

We wrote to Director-General Michael Walsh on 14 September to request a meeting to start these discussions. Together delegates Peter Yates, Garry Bourne, Greg Flohr, Brendan Kelly, Rod Reeves and Craig Mackenzie, Together Assistant Secretary Kate Flanders and Health Organiser Heather Hayes met with the Director-General on Monday 28 September and discussed the following:

  • Members who work in these areas believe that they should be acknowledged as working in an area that provides quality diagnostic, scientific, public and environmental health and forensic services, the direct support of clinical care.
  • These functions are an essential component of the health system and need to be recognised as integral. Recognition of this should mean that they sit within a Clinical and Scientific Services area in the Department of Health to recognise the clinical and public Health and community safety services that are provided to HHS’s, other government agencies and non-state government clients.
  • Members believe that clinical and public health functions and structures should reside in a clinical and public health division of the Department or structure. In this case, it would be the Health Department, not a statutory body with diverse goals and functions. This was also stated in Together's submission to the Hunter Review.
  • Essential services such as those outlined above must be considered as an integral part of the health system and an artificial administrative separation of these functions puts our system at risk. It also feeds a view that having the services "hived off" could lead to privatisation or outsourcing more easily.
  • Together members outlined their concerns with this recommendation, aiming to ensure that the there is a clear focus on quality diagnostic, scientific, public and environmental health and forensic services and the direct support of clinical care through quality pathology services and medical technology management.
  • Members had significant concerns that moving to a Statutory body would make it easier to sell off Pathology, BTS and QHFSS services with future governments.

Overall the meeting was positive. Michael Walsh listened carefully to our concerns and said that there is no pre-conceived notion as to this recommendation. He did state quite clearly that he would not move Pathology, BTS and QHFSS services to the HHS's control as these were clearly statewide services and needed to remain as state wide services.

This recommendation would be part of the a future consultation process to decide what the future of HSQ will be. We will need to ensure that all members' views on the strengths and weaknesses to the current arrangement are listened to when this process starts.

We will continue to raise these concerns with the DG and obtain more information on this upcoming consultation process.

We will keep you posted on how this issue progresses.

The best way to be heard on this and on other issues that matters is when workers like you speak up and act collectively - the first step in doing this is by talking to a colleague to join your union.

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