News

Qld Health loses more than $800m under private billing scheme

A SCHEME to enable doctors to practise privately in public hospitals has cost Queensland Health $804.24 million in the past nine years.

The figure is derived from the $752.47 million difference between the payments to senior medical officers and Queensland Health's share of earned revenues and the $51.77 million in unrecovered administrative support costs.

A Queensland Audit Office report, tabled in Queensland Parliament on Thursday, found revenue that could be generated under the scheme was lost through doctors not actively participating in the private billing scheme, as well as complex, inefficient and inconsistent systems needing substantial manual processing.

The report writers estimated Queensland Health could have secured an extra $22.76 million in revenue across a variety of billable activities under the scheme in 2011-12.

For the 2013-14 year, Queensland Health has identified a further revenue uplift of $17.73 million in outpatient bulk billing.

The audit office has recommended immediate changes to make the scheme financially sustainable, setting clear targets for desired outcomes and developing an oversight body to enforce contractual obligations.

The report found the "right of private practice" scheme was not attracting significant patient activity away from the private sector but there was credible evidence category two elective surgery patients choosing to be treated privately received priority access, compared to public patients.

The audit found several scheme variants operating in Queensland which were supposed to be cost neutral.

Senior medical officers, or specialists, are paid an allowance and, in exchange, they assign all private practice revenue to the hospital where they are working.

That hospital and health service then absorbs the direct and indirect costs.

But the audit found the allowance was used as salary supplementation to attract and keep staff across Queensland, including in regional areas, rather than as a revenue raising measure.

The report found a decision in 2006 to amend the scheme - expanding it to those ineligible to bill, non-specialists and emergency department SMOs - "further entrenched the cultural belief that the right of private practice was a mechanism to effect a pay rise".

"It is clear that the concept of cost neutrality is now a foreign consideration to all involved," the report read.

"This is typified by the experience in 2011-12 when almost half of those SMOs on Option A allowances generated no private practice revenue.

"Our experience during this audit is that there is significant confusion and misinformation about this matter."

The report found the scheme had been successful in retaining more senior medical officers in the public health system per head of population than before but, because Queensland Health has not set any clear growth targets, "it is impossible to calibrate this apparent success properly".

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg is expected to respond to the report later today.

Topics:  doctors, public hospitals, queensland health


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Horticulture expo draws crowds to the Lockyer Valley

Lockyer Valley growers president Anthony Staatz with Terranova Seeds' Michael Sippel at the Horticulture and Innovation Expo, held in the Lockyer Valley.

The Lockyer horticulture expo is back.

Lending a hand to our volunteer fire fighters

Hatton Vale Summerholm acting first officer Chris Moor thanks Weis Contractors owner Stephen Weis for removing the graffiti from the brigades sheds.

Charitable efforts help out volunteer fire fighters

Ma Ma Creek goes on show

Katie Storey showed off her winning cookie monster cupcakes at the Ma Ma Creek Exhibition.

Ma Ma Creek Exhibition

Latest deals and offers

Gatton's Relay For Life team to raise $22,000

RELAY For Life team Family and Friends United are on a mission to raise $22,000 towards fighting cancer.

Horticulture expo draws crowds to the Lockyer Valley

Lockyer Valley growers president Anthony Staatz with Terranova Seeds' Michael Sippel at the Horticulture and Innovation Expo, held in the Lockyer Valley.

The Lockyer horticulture expo is back.

Lending a hand to our volunteer fire fighters

Hatton Vale Summerholm acting first officer Chris Moor thanks Weis Contractors owner Stephen Weis for removing the graffiti from the brigades sheds.

Charitable efforts help out volunteer fire fighters

Ma Ma Creek goes on show

Katie Storey showed off her winning cookie monster cupcakes at the Ma Ma Creek Exhibition.

Ma Ma Creek Exhibition

World Cup showjumping starts today in Gatton

ALL SET: Jessie and Clem Smith with their horses Copabella Tattiana and Alite, are ready for the World Cup Qualifier in Gatton.

Showjumping has kicked off today at the Gatton showgrounds.

Regina claims finalist spot

FINALIST: Regina Samykau-Vuthapanich is a finalist in the 2016 Queensland Multicultural Awards.

Local named as a finalist in the Queensland Multicultural Awards.

Rob Kardashian 'neglected' by Blac Chyna

Friends say they are now 'back in love'

Isla Fisher: I don't like talking about my private life

Isla Fisher shut down TV hosts when they asked about her husband

Mariah Carey: I 'can't believe' Prince has gone

'Prince was one of the best people I've met'

Joe Jonas' 'tough' pals

Joe Jonas' pals are 'tough' with his potential partners

The Bachelor wash up: bacon, plank offs and that white rose

Richie Strahan, second from left, with bachelorettes Eliza, Faith, Noni and Janey in a scene from episode one of the fourth season of The Bachelor.

RICHIE Strahan meets some beautiful, and colourful, bachelorettes.

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

The climb is slow but property on the way up

Michael Matusik, director of Matusik Property Insights.Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

The improvement would be mild when compared to past cycles