The PA Consulting Group report assessed the current arrangements for the provision of medical services and proposed a model for future delivery of those services. It recommended a programme of major change and working groups have been set up to progress the various projects identified. These continue to meet regularly and all have submitted reports.
The line officer, in the rank of colonel, to command the new centralised medical unit for the medical corps took up duty on 14 June 2010. He has the responsibility of implementing the model for the future medical service. PA did not identify structures, numbers and processes within the centralised command structure in detail.
The organisation and establishment working group was asked to recommend a structure to include staff appointments for the future medical service. It has now completed its final report, which has been submitted to the steering group for consideration and approval. Final reports from three of the working groups — training and education, financial arrangements and outsourcing, and organisation and establishment — have now been completed. The final report of the future medical information system working group will be completed in the next two weeks and, along with the other three final reports, will be considered by the steering group, with a decision expected by the end of this month. The clinical review working group is not due to submit its final report until 30 September 2010; however, monthly reports are being submitted in the interim. It is only following completion of this phase that full implementation of the PA recommendations can be achieved.
The process for implementation also requires that there must be consultation with the representative associations regarding any change within the scope of representation. It is expected that there will be substantial progress before the end of the year in implementing recommendations.
The development of the medical corps forms part of the agreed programme for Government. This includes the expansion of the capacity of the medical corps to deliver a range of medical facilities on UN-mandated missions. I am committed to providing a sustainable medical service to meet the needs of the Defence Forces both at home and abroad. The structure and systems recommended by PA have been designed to meet the demands and needs of the modern Defence Forces at home and overseas. I assure the House that Defence Forces personnel requiring medical treatment are getting the care they need.