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Australia : $800 million lost in mismanagement of private patients in Queensland Hospitals.

A financial scandal to rival Queensland s infamous health payroll fiasco has been unearthed by the State s Auditor General in a report that found losses of $804 million in the mismanagement of private patients in State-run hospitals.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg will expedite an official response to the report, which reveals ongoing annual costs to Queensland Health of more than $120 million a year.

Combined, this new Labor scandal and the infamous Labor payroll fiasco are costing Queensland taxpayers more than $2 billion in overall costs and a recurrent bill of more than $200 million a year, Mr Springborg said.

This is a scheme symptomatic of the poisonous administrative culture of Queensland Health under Labor. It was devised to be revenue neutral but failed, costing hundreds of millions of dollars year after year. Now the LNP Government must clean up the mess.

Mr Springborg wrote to the Auditor General seeking the investigation in November, when concerns about the operation of the private practice scheme first appeared.

Released today, the QAO report found more than 1,200 senior Queensland doctors were each paid an average of $101,000 for work on private patients they did not do.

Labor paid doctors to treat privately-insured patients at public hospitals so the State could reclaim fees from insurers and Medicare, without extra cost to the patient.

The allowance is worth is up to 65 per cent of a senior doctor s base salary.

The QAO report also found that payments made to Queensland doctors ranged up to $395,000, in addition to their base salary and other allowances.

The report found that in the 2011/12 financial year, 93.5 per cent of the 2,591 doctors who were paid the allowance did not generate enough revenue to cover the allowance. Almost 50 per cent or 1,210 doctors did no private patient work despite taking the allowance. A further 20 per cent generated less than $10,000 a year.

This is lost revenue urgently needed to provide frontline services. It is equal to 40,000 tonsillectomies or 30,000 normal births a year foregone, Mr Springborg said.

Mr Springborg said changes to private practice arrangements were flagged in the Blueprint for Better Healthcare in Queensland , announced by the Government in February.

We also announced plans for award simplification and to transfer senior medical staff on to contracts. The findings of this report make those goals an absolute priority, he said.

Mr Springborg said it was important to note the report did not relate to rural doctors employed as medical superintendents or medical officers with a right of private practice.

Those arrangements apply to doctors with their own private practice who are paid to work in remote and rural public hospitals.

2013 Al Bawaba (Albawaba.com)

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jul 11, 2013
Words:471
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