16 April 2020
SA Pathology to stay in public hands
In a huge win for medical scientists and technical officers, the Premier has today taken the privatisation of SA Pathology off the table, publicly repudiating the idea and backing the public service.
Professionals Australia has run the STOP the Health Cell-Off campaign for the past two years arguing that privatisation would strip SA Pathology of crucial capacity.
SA Director of Professionals Australian Sarah Andrews said the COVID-19 crisis has irrefutably demonstrated why privatisation was a bad fit for SA Pathology.
“The lesson that policy makers have learnt from this experience is that you simply must have a pathology service with ‘surge capacity’ to respond to crises like this one,” Ms Andrews said.
“Its not just COVID-19 – we’ve had other less publicised examples with outbreaks of other Carbapenemase producing enterobacterales at Flinders Medical Centre, and significant Salmonellas outbreaks in the past that require surge capacity.
“The reality is that a private business would run the service on its bare bones to make it profitable year-round which would mean when a crisis hits, it would not be able to respond.
“When you lose staff from a service like SA Pathology, they don’t just sit there waiting – they go and find other jobs or leave the state which means when you need them, they won’t be there.
“This is exactly why key health services like pathology and hospitals don’t stack up for privatisation – because they are not always profitable and that shouldn’t be their focus.
“SA Pathology should be able to focus on its job to provide a world-class testing service that enables us to diagnose and treat patients quickly and efficiently – it is great news the Government has taken privatisation off the table so these staff can now do exactly that.”
Ms Andrews said the union would now work with the Government and SA Pathology on delivering a great public service and retaining the best medical scientists and technical officers for South Australia.
“These people are heroes on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis. The Virology division in SA Pathology was able to design and get a validated testing method up and running, within two weeks with other kits sold out worldwide and unavailable.
“This in-house testing was available a week before the British national health system with their large pool of laboratory experts were able to have their in house testing up and running.
“They have worked tirelessly to be one of the highest-testing jurisdictions in the world which has been proven to be pivotal in flattening the curve.
“We need to make sure that we retain these people by making SA Pathology a great public service to work in.”
Media contact: Tim O’Halloran 0409 059 617