Sun, 02 Jun 2013 - 21:00
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HMAS Penguin: Health Centre

Mr Fletcher asked the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, in writing, on 6 February 2013:

In respect of the closure in 2012 of the pharmacy at the Health Centre HMAS Penguin:

(a) why was it closed;

(b) what evidence was gathered to support the closure;

(c) it is a fact that it was the only Defence pharmacy to close in NSW; if so, why, if not, what other such pharmacies have closed;

(d) why was notification of the closure given to the Officer in Charge of the Health Centre and affected staff only days before the closure; and

(e) what savings:

(i) were expected to be achieved; and

(ii) have been achieved.

Mr Stephen Smith: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(a) and (b) The decision to close the pharmacy at HMAS Penguin was made in the normal course of managing health service operations in Defence. Specifically, this decision was made due to a significant reduction in the full-time ADF dependency (less than 150 persons) for that pharmacy. This was a direct result of complex Navy medical cases being moved to the personnel support unit at HMAS Kuttabul. These cases were the most frequent users of medical services at HMAS Penguin, including pharmacy.

(c) The pharmacy at HMAS Penguin was the only pharmacy in NSW to close. In this instance this was an isolated case where ADF dependency numbers had reduced significantly. In the normal course of business where there are changes to ADF dependency numbers for specific health facilities, Defence reviews its workforce requirements in those locations and makes amendments as required.

(d) The strict probity guidelines required of the procurement process for the ADF Health Services Contract, and adhered to by the project team, dictated that very little information concerning the contract could be shared or discussed with regional staff, especially given the close local working arrangements with the then current on base workforce providers and contracted health workforce.

Defence has no obligation to consult directly with contracted health professionals engaged by prime services providers to Defence. As the then existing contracts for provision of contracted health professionals were coming to an end (4 November 2012), the prime service providers were notified by Defence about the proposed new contract arrangements.

(e) (i) & (ii) Efficiencies expected to be achieved from closure of the pharmacy include one (1) Full Time Equivalent (FTE) pharmacist position, and a reduction in pharmaceutical and consumable administrative stock management overhead. As transition to the new services has only recently been finalised any efficiencies have not yet been measured.