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Estimates: GP Psych Support service questions

Estimates & Committees
Penny Wright 20 Nov 2013

Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee 
Health Department 

20 November, 2013

Senator WRIGHT: I will move then to the GP Psych Support service. I understand that the Department of Health ceased to fund the GP Psych Support service administered by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the service was shut down on 31 October this year, when its contract for service expired. Am I right in that?

Ms Campion: The current contract did come to an end on 31 October, but, as you may also be aware, the minister has committed to provide further funding to the college.

Senator WRIGHT: I was going to check that. Thank you. What review of the service and its effectiveness occurred before the decision to defund it was made this year?

Ms Campion: It was not decision to defund. It was just a timing, sequencing, issue. As I said, the funding agreement was due to expire. That was always the end date of the agreement. There just was not time prior to the expiry of the agreement to negotiate a new one.

CHAIR: If you don't put new funding agreements in the budget, you don't have to admit how big your deficit is!

Senator WRIGHT: Was there any review at all that occurred prior to the expiration of that contract?

Ms Nicholls: The Royal Australian College of GPs were asked to undertake a needs analysis of the service, for which we had provided them with additional funding, and this was being looked at prior to us entering into a new agreement.

Senator WRIGHT: Has that now been completed?

Ms Nicholls: It has been provided to us, yes.

Senator WRIGHT: Is there going to be some public provision of that report at some point? Is it possible to see the results of that analysis?

Ms Nicholls: That would be a decision for the minister.

Senator WRIGHT: So you do not know at this point—it is certainly not possible at the moment, from what you are saying?

Ms Nicholls: Yes.

Senator WRIGHT: What review of the service and its effectiveness will occur before a decision is made about whether its funding will recur in 2014? Will there be any further analysis or evaluation, or will it be relying on that analysis that has already been provided? We know that it has been extended for a further 12 months. In terms of decisions beyond that, will there be further evaluation of that program?

Ms Nicholls: That would be a decision for the minister.


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