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.

'Tis the season for carols in the Lockyer Valley

Lucy Theodosis, Lauren Willey, Mataya Thomas, Ella Auld, Tayla Maguire and Darcie Gillis from the Peace Lutheran Choir at the Lockyer Valley Mayoral Christmas Carols at the Gatton Shire Hall on Saturday.

Lockyer Valley Mayoral Christmas Carols

Bowls day to support Blue Care

CELEBRATION: The winners, The Aces, Bob Gelharr, Les Derry, Steve Warren and Richard Brown.

Bowlers hit the greens to raise money for Blue Care.

Jeremy has new lease on life after landing job at Gray's

FRESH START: Gray's Furniture owner and manager Paula Gray with her new employee Jeremy Morris and APM consultant Gavin Homes.

After gaining help from APM, Jeremy Morris is thriving in new job.

Local Partners

Marburg community has the Christmas spirit

RAIN and storms couldn't keep the crowd away from the Marburg Christmas Carnival.

Man builds playground entirely out of packing tape

Artist Eric Lennartson is in the process of completing his huge tape sculpture at the Ipswich Art Gallery.

VIDEO:And here's where you can play on it.

Countdown to Woodford Folk Festival begins

ECONOMIC BOON: Woodford Folk Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.  Photo Contributed

The first larger-than-life inhabitants have stepped into Woodfordia

'I need to do what I can': 65km walk for cancer patient

Karlee Robinson is walking from Caloundra to Noosa for her cousin Aaron Parker, who has terminal brain cancer.

What do you do when someone you love has terminal brain cancer?

Hacksaw Ridge wins big in first round of AACTA Awards

Luke Bracey and Andrew Garfield in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

THE major awards will be handed out on Wednesday night.

Paris Hilton fumes at clumsy partygoers

A reveller spilt their drink on Paris Hilton's DJ decks

Winnie Harlow isn't a role model

Winnie Harlow insists she isn't a role model.

Felicity Jones proud of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story role

Felicity Jones feels it is "important" for a woman to head Rogue One

Kiwi's plea to Ellen DeGeneres to save bakery after quake

Ellen... we need your magic.

Family had to be helicoptered out after powerful quake

Seacrest: Things are "going better" for Kim and Kanye

Ryan Seacrest says things are "going better now" for Kanye West

Couple's desperate $550K price drop to sell Gladstone home

Brian Headley and Kirstene Staib are selling their Kin Kora mansion for $750,000.

TELL tale sign of Gladstone's property market.

Banks reclaim Gladstone homes as job losses bite

LONG FALL: Property experts Heron Todd say, based on key market indicators, Gladstone is still travelling to the bottom of the market, with property prices set to get cheaper.

Property valuers say Gladstone housing market hasn't hit the bottom

The million dollar property to test Mackay's market

This Victoria St building will go to auction Tuesday and investors will be watching closely to see how much it sells for.

'High profile architect designed CBD asset' goes to auction

Prices jump in trio of mining towns

THE boost in coal prices in the past six months has triggered a house price jump in at least three mining towns in Central Queensland.

Boost in coal prices triggers a market turnaround

INSIDE STORY: Disused pipeline stops hundreds from building

TRAIL OF TEARS: Route of the disused Santos oil pipeline which is stopping hundreds of Ipswich residents from building.

Santos responds but Tully says easements issue must be addressed

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!