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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 3313 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

by ACT Health to sell to them. Why has ACT Health suddenly got $1.5 million to spare to provide a service that would have been provided at no cost to the ACT Department of Health?

Why is that spare $1.5 million not being spent on reducing public-hospital waiting lists and on providing other health services that are currently being reduced or closed down?

Mr Corbell: I doubt that St John of God provide the service for free, Mr Cornwell.

MR CORNWELL: I am talking to the organ-grinder, thank you, Mr Corbell. Those were the questions, Chief Minister, that were posed in Dr Hughes' letter. I did not see any answers to them in the media, so I am asking you those questions now.

MR STANHOPE: It is a pity, Mr Cornwell, that you do not read the paper as assiduously every day as you did on that day, because there was a very fine and detailed response to the letter provided by Dr Gregory, the head of the department of health, a couple of days after Dr Hughes' letter. It explained quite fully all the misconceptions and mistakes that were contained in Dr Hughes' letter.

If you had continued to read as assiduously as you did that day, Mr Cornwell, you would be much better informed. There was a full response to Dr Hughes' letter provided in letters to the editor in the Canberra Times just a couple of days later.

Your question, based on that limited information and badly researched as it was-who writes your questions, Mr Cornwell?-repeats the mistakes that clouded Dr Hughes' judgment.

St John of God has supplied Calvary Public Hospital pathology services since November 1999 under a contract let by Mr Moore when he decided to tender out that service, which had previously been provided by ACT Pathology. The maintenance of two pathology providers in the public sector in a jurisdiction as small as the ACT was not particularly efficient. I certainly do not believe it served the best long-term ends of an integrated system in the ACT.

In June of this year the territory policy changed following our response to the Reid review, which stressed highly the importance-of which we are all aware-of an integrated pathology service to demonstrate improved efficiencies, effectiveness and responsiveness. In this context the territory entered into discussions with St John of God and Calvary Health Care to seek an amicable solution for the satisfactory transmission of a service provision to ACT Pathology.

As a result, the ACT Health and Community Care service acquired the St John of God public pathology business and Calvary Health Care. ACT Pathology will be the sole provider to ACT public hospitals and will continue to provide both public hospitals with 24-hour, on-site pathology services.

This is a move to an integrated service, which will not increase the cost to taxpayers. That is one of the great misapprehensions you are under-and if you took your advice from Dr Hughes, he was under it as well. It is about maximising the financial and clinical benefits of integration.

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