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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 3 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 797 ..

Visiting Medical Officers

MS REILLY: My question is directed to the Chief Minister in her capacity as Minister for Health and Community Care. The Auditor-General in his report on the VMO contracts raised some concerns. One of these was that some of the visiting medical officers will seek to maintain their incomes by overservicing, for example. What will the Minister for Health do to ensure that the VMOs do not succeed in this?

MRS CARNELL: I would very much like the member to quote from that Auditor-General's report again, so that I can get the question right.

MR SPEAKER: Proceed.

Ms Reilly: The quote is:

... some practitioners will seek to maintain their incomes, by over-servicing ...

MRS CARNELL: The actual quote is "could". I wanted to make sure that everybody here was aware of what the Auditor-General meant. What it says is that it is a possibility. Certainly, my memory is that he said that this could happen; he did not say that it will definitely happen. I think that is very important. The Auditor-General has made it very clear that under the current deal there is a possibility. He makes it very clear that he has no information that it has happened. He is saying that there is a possibility that VMOs will do so.

Obviously, we will do everything in our power to ensure that VMOs do not overservice. We will also do everything in our power to make sure that salaried doctors do not overservice. In fact, we do not want anyone to overservice. We will make sure that that is the case and we will be very keen to have any information whatsoever that the Auditor-General or, for that matter, anybody opposite can bring forward to suggest that overservicing is occurring. Overservicing is bad for the public purse, but it is also bad for the patient. On that basis, as I said, we will do everything in our power to make sure that that is not the case. But I do not believe that the Auditor-General brought forward any evidence whatsoever to suggest that it was happening or that it had cost anything at this stage. He suggested that it was a possibility. On that basis, the system should do everything in its power to stop it, and it will.

MS REILLY: If the Chief Minister looks at page 4, she will see the words "will seek". My supplementary question is this: You have raised the fact that the Auditor-General says that it is not happening at the moment. Could the Minister for Health agree to report, at the next sitting of this house, on what methods she has put in place?

MRS CARNELL: What measures I put in place to ensure that patients at Woden Valley Hospital are not overserviced? I am very happy to organise briefings for any member of this place who would like to go out to Woden to have a look at how it works; and, for a new member, that is very important.

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