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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2797 ..

Woden Valley Hospital

MR CONNOLLY: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mrs Carnell as Minister for Health. Minister, can you confirm that as part of the Booz Allen review of the hospital, and in particular the radiology department, the Booz Allen consultancy team has identified savings of close to half a million dollars - in fact, $468,000, to be precise - that can be achieved simply by adjusting the balance between staff specialist and VMO arrangements for radiology services in favour of specialists as against VMOs? Can you also confirm that unions have been told that this option is off the table and that, instead of making savings of up to $468,000 simply by adjusting VMOs versus specialists, nursing and other positions are under threat?

MRS CARNELL: At this stage the balance between VMOs and salaried specialists in radiology is being examined by this Government. We have, of recent days, had some concern about that balance and I undertake to make the results of that investigation available to this Assembly. There is no doubt that at this time the usage of VMOs in radiology is substantially higher than we would like it to be, and we are doing everything in our power to address that, Mr Speaker.

MR CONNOLLY: I ask a supplementary question. Can the Minister also confirm that, while a fence seems to have been built around the potential savings of $468,000 by reducing VMOs, to achieve a saving of less than $20,000 you are going to close the mammography service at Woden Valley Hospital?

MRS CARNELL: The closure of the mammography service was recommended by Booz Allen, as you would be aware. The reason it was recommended is nothing to do - - -

Mr Connolly: Are you going to do it? Are you going to close mammography to save $20,000 when you can save nearly half a million by standing up to VMOs?

MR SPEAKER: Order! If you wish to hear the answer, I suggest that you let the Minister for Health answer the question.

MRS CARNELL: Nobody is closing mammography, Mr Connolly. As you would be aware, there has been a very big upsurge in mammography in the ACT via the mammography service in Civic. In fact, the number of women going through mammography screening in the central Civic surgery or offices has gone up substantially. In fact, the ACT is doing better, I think, than any other State, or as well as any other State, in terms of mammography screening. What has been recommended is that we do all of our screening in one location in the ACT. That does not mean that we do not do mammography for people who are in hospital, people who are non-ambulatory or whatever.

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