Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, and Minister for Veterans' Affairs Warren Snowdon set the record straight after incorrect statements were made by the Opposition about access to health care services for ADF personnel. Comments by the Shadow Defence Minister, Senator David Johnston that Defence members are not getting access to the best doctors or face overly convoluted processes to access health care under this contract are wrong.
Defence has confirmed that, under the new contract with Medibank Health Solutions (MHS), ADF servicemen and women will continue to receive the highest quality of health care services. All ADF personnel have access to health care providers who are fully qualified and credentialed.
Defence has streamlined the medical referral process through innovation and technology and this provides a consistent, standardised approach to the delivery of health care services nationally.
Since the transition of health services to MHS commenced on 29 October 2012, almost 165,000 episodes of health care have been delivered. During that period, there have been only 62 “complaints”. Of these, 27 were feedback to MHS from Defence, related to minor administrative issues to do with incomplete paperwork. None of the “complaints” resulted from any significant adverse health outcome.
MHS continues to expand the network of off base providers and is signing up new providers daily. It has currently signed on more than 3,500 medical specialists, more than 7,200 allied health professionals and 210 hospitals nationally.
Under the contract with MHS, as at 31 January 2013:
- 16,726 appointments for specialist services have been processed;
- 17,804 imaging and radiology procedures have been undertaken;
- 70,669 pathology tests have been conducted;
- 59,799 on-base contracted health professional services have been provided, and
- more than 4,776 calls have been answered by the MHS national health hotline service.
During the Senate Estimates Hearing on 13 February 2013, the Shadow Veterans’ Affairs Minister, Senator Michael Ronaldson raised the issue of linking the delivery of Defence health services with the existing Department of Veterans’ Affairs health contracts.
“I have had discussions with both Defence and DVA on how the future delivery of health services might be brought together," Mr Snowdon said.
“This is a very complex issue, which Senator Ronaldson has failed to grasp. This was pointed out to Senator Ronaldson by officials at the Estimates Hearing.
"There is a whole range of issues that must be addressed, including the timing of existing DVA purchasing of health services (which total in excess of $6 billion), the differences in the medical services required and the location and dispersement of ADF personnel. Considerable work is required to enable a proper assessment of the potential benefits and the capacity for health services to be delivered under a single approach.
“It is a matter which will be subject to further discussion,” Mr Snowdon said.
Minister Snowdon's Office: Marcus Butler (02) 6277 7820
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999