Claims of industrial muscling in NSW health
A partly union-owned health provider has been accused of forcing other medical services out of town, but says the claims are over-blown.
News Corp media outlets have published allegations that one provider has been taking over health work in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales.
The claims stem from the comments of one local doctor, but may not be as they appear.
Recent reports in The Australian said the medical service provider was paying mining companies a rebate to use their services only, leaving independent doctors with no-one to treat.
The accusations were leveled at Coal Services Health, which has been providing medical services to the NSW coal industry for over 65 years.
Contrary to the News Corp report, Coal Services enjoys strong links with the local medical and mining communities.
The company says it is one of many Hunter Valley medical practitioners working closely together to ensure good health and safety outcomes for workers.
Coal Services has also played a significant role in enacting various NSW Government mining health and safety initiatives
Nevertheless, an independent Hunter Valley doctor told reporters that he found his tender to perform one particular medical exam was “competitive in every aspect other than our inability to provide a rebate for each medical examination conducted.”
“When I inquired further about this ‘rebate’, I was told by the mining company that [its chosen provider] provides the company with a rebate of $220 for every medical that they conduct,” the local doctor said.
Coal Services says the test in question is discounted for employees of one company for very specialised medical services, which are provided under contract.
It says the workers receive an amount off their invoices equal to a figure collected as a part of their insurance premium, and if the balance was not made, then workers would be charged twice for the same service.
Reports in The Australian went on to accuse Coal Services of endangering local residents and workers through the activity, when in reality they are one of many providers still operating in the local landscape, working collectively for health benefits across the region.