Fundamental changes for SA Pathology

02.04.2019
Better Services

An independent report into SA Pathology, released today, has highlighted a range of savings and reform opportunities across the agency.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Review of SA Pathology’s Commercial Competitiveness has also recommended the organisation be given 12 months to improve performance and demonstrate its competitiveness.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the PwC report highlights a lack of financial management and business skills within the organisation.

“Labor planned efficiencies in SA Pathology. Labor announced in 2014 they would cut 332 FTE from SA Pathology, close sample collection centres, consolidate all non-urgent diagnostic testing and rationalise the workforce,” Minister Wade said.

“The Marshall Liberal Government is also committed to delivering efficiencies and commissioned the PwC review to find what was achievable.

“All of the key stakeholders have acknowledged there are efficiencies that can be made within SA Pathology, while vehemently opposing privatisation. I now look forward to working with those stakeholders about how we can make this agency more commercial and deliver better bang for the taxpayer buck.

“South Australian taxpayers deserve to know they are getting the best value-for-money, highest quality health care.

“The PwC report has found that fundamental improvements to SA Pathology’s operating model are required to support long-term sustainability.

“The State Government notes the recommendations and will immediately commence work to ensure SA Pathology implements key business reforms intended to deliver a more efficient and competitive business.

“A formal review will be undertaken in 12 months’ time to assess the progress SA Pathology has made against the specific recommendations and that the business is delivering value for the taxpayer.”

Minister Wade said while the focus is on delivering a sustainable public pathology service, contestability remains an option should the reform process not progress and deliver savings.

“We are giving SA Pathology the opportunity to make fundamental changes to address their operating deficit,” he said.

“While the details of the implementation are still being developed, an early change is renewed leadership. The former executive director position will be split into two roles, with an interim Executive Director and an interim Clinical Service Director appointed to ensure a strong business focus on the one hand with a dedicated clinical oversight.

“Additionally, while the PwC report doesn’t quantify a staffing impact, it is clear that SA Pathology has more staff than required across the business.

“This was pointed out during Labor’s time in office and still remains the case. At this stage, a high-level analysis of PwC’s report over three years estimates an optimal SA Pathology workforce would reduce to around 1,200 from its current workforce of 1,400.

“The Marshall Liberal Government remains committed to our promise that no doctor or nurse will be sacked as a result of budget saving measures.

“While any job losses are disappointing, this is less than the 332 positions the former Labor Government planned on axing from SA Pathology.”

Extensive engagement on the report findings are planned with staff and stakeholders over the coming weeks. Both the PwC report
and the State Government’s response to the report are available at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au.

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