All providers in the NT bulk bill. Darwin-based public provider, Northern Territory Government Pathology Service, runs a small number of regional labs providing equity of access to medical services in situations where private providers would not make a profit. Profits from private referrals help fund the retention of experienced staff and pathologist training.
Pathology is very much private sector-based in Tassie, with public-provided services currently limited to public hospital clinics. However, the public provider, Centrepath, is set to open three collection centres in Hobart over the next two years. Any profit from increased private referral work can be retained by the government pathology service for service improvement.
The ACT is well served by a large network of public and private collection centres. The public provider, ACT Pathology, relies on both the money and work volume it gets from private referrals to support the comprehensive service it provides.
There is a large network of public and private providers in WA. Public provider, PathWest, has about 100 collection centres and 24 labs that serve all significant population centres. PathWest uses the Medicare income from GP referrals to reduce the amount of taxpayer funding for pathology services.
The public provider, Pathology Queensland, has 33 labs and many hospital and health centre collection points, but only four shop-front collection centres – one in each of Townsville and Toowoomba, and two in metropolitan Brisbane. Private providers are also widely represented throughout Queensland in hospitals, medical centres and shop fronts.
The Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science (IMVS), part of SA Pathology, is the public provider in SA, with many shop-front collection centres. SA is also well served by an extensive private network, with many shop fronts and private medical centre collection points.
New South Wales
Public pathology in NSW is regionally based and each service is independent. Access to the bulk-billing public provider is often good in the country but poor in greater Sydney (given traffic congestion) where public services are often provided through hospitals. There are some places where service is better, such as in the north of Sydney, where Pathology North has six metropolitan and 12 country community collection centres.
Victoria is largely a private pathology state. Several public providers exist in greater Melbourne, based in major public hospitals, with limited collection centres, often in a hospital. They will do GP- and specialist-referred pathology, but convenience may be an issue. St Vincent’s is the exception, with 32 collection centres. Most regional centres rely on private pathology, with smaller rural hospitals contracting out pathology to private providers.