Public Pathology Australia releases updates and comments on critical issues facing the pathology sector.

Contact Public Pathology Australia’s CEO Jenny Sikorski on or 0466 576 221 for comment.

Some of Public Pathology Australia’s releases are contained below.

Public Pathology advocates for Change to COVID Testing Strategy – 10 JANUARY 2022

The Public Pathology System continues to work under significant pressure with test numbers for COVID-19 PCR increasing day on day. This increase is compromising the capacity to deliver tests.  The effect, over the last Public Holiday weekends, of  a downturn of testing by some private pathology providers, has meant an increased in the workload directed to Public Laboratories.   Public Pathology Services work at the direction of State Governments and respond as effectively as possible to community service expectations. Public Pathology Australia notes the rapidly changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and believes that it is time for a more targeted and rationalised approach to COVID-19 PCR testing.

Private pathology providers are able to cease testing when it is apparent that they will not be able to turnaround the work within an acceptable timeframe under 48 hours.  After this time, the result is of little utility, and the patient is left in limbo for days without knowing a result and is likely to leave isolation, placing further risk on the community.

Public laboratories do not control the number of samples that are delivered to them, as this occurs under the clinical service mandate. They are experiencing significant pressure because of the increased volume of tests and this is pushing test result delivery behind. With the current community positivity rate, the pre-test probability of COVID-19 in a symptomatic individual is now much higher than at previous times in the pandemic.[1] The majority of Australians 16 years or older are double vaccinated.[2]  Public Pathology Australia believes that it is now time to modify testing criteria and undertake targeted PCR testing for certain high-risk groups only.  These will depend on the setting and availability in different jurisdictions. Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), which are increasingly available, can used for close contacts, screening and where vulnerable groups do not have access to timely PCR testing.

The implications for community disease and contact management should be addressed if this proposed change in testing policy is adopted by Government, but it may be reasonable to assume COVID-19 positivity for any member of the public who have been in contact with a case or who has symptoms.  The positivity rate amongst the current test population allows wide use of RATs, as the reduced sensitivity of the test is of less importance in settings where 20% of tests are positive.  Expectant management means that contacts can be managed according to the current guidance and isolate as required.  Long testing queues with the consequent long wait times, place patients, especially with the current positivity rate, at increased danger of contracting COVID-19 whilst awaiting testing.

In order to ensure a rapid and responsive result turnaround to hospital patients, health care workers and at risk communities, Public Pathology Australia suggests that the time is right for a targeted testing approach.  The pragmatic approach to COVID-19 testing must be the limitation of exposure of vulnerable individuals and communities to COVID and the management of the impact of COVID on health system services and resources. It is not sensible to talk of managing COVID distribution in the community but act as if eradication of COVID were the target.

Public Pathology Australia expects that the widespread introduction of RATs in many jurisdictions, will reduce the pressure on laboratories PCR testing.  Given current testing pressures and positivity rates, we support the decision of National Cabinet to abolish the need for a PCR confirmation when a patient has tested positive via a RAT.[3]

Without rationalising PCR test requesting, turnaround times for the clinically vulnerable such as inpatients, health care workers and at risk populations, will increase and compromise health system services.

Public Pathology Australia welcomes the opportunity of discussing concerns and process changes to COVID-19 testing regimes further with Governments, both State and Commonwealth.

Public Pathology Australia is the national peak body for public pathology services in Australia. 

More information about Public Pathology Australia and its members are available at

This media release is available online

Interview opportunities are available with: 

Dr Petra Derrington, President Public Pathology Australia and Microbiologist




For all media enquiries contact Ms Jenny Sikorski, CEO, Public Pathology Australia, on 0466 576 221,

Public Pathology Australia’s Community First, Always Campaign

“Maintaining vigilance during the COVID-19 vaccination program” 17 MAY 2021

Australia’s response to the COVID-19 global pandemic has been exemplary.  This has been driven by Public Pathology Services.  Public Pathology Australia advises that ongoing vigilance and testing is required to maintain an effective response to the pandemic despite the commencement of the vaccination program.  This message coincides with the launch of Public Pathology Australia’s new Public Pathology – Community First, Always campaign. See new video located here.

Click here for media release.

SA Pathology to Remain in Public Ownership

Public Pathology Australia welcomes SA Premier and Health Minister’s decision to keep SA Pathology in public ownership – demonstrating the value and importance of public pathology services, especially during the #COVID19 pandemic.

Click here for media release.

Pathology testing should be a level playing field – for patients and providers

Published 29 May 2018

Australians value access to affordable, high quality health care and, although it’s not always the first health service that springs to mind, access to pathology testing is an important aspect of this.

In the post below, CEO of Public Pathology Australia, Jenny Sikorski, says there are currently some threats to the viability of  smaller pathology services in under-served areas. She explains how this has come about, and outlines what needs to be done ensure that everyone in Australia has equitable access to diagnostic testing.

Click for full article.

MYEFO MBS Pathology Cuts May Cause Patients to Avoid Necessary Testing

Published 16 December 2015

The Federal Government’s announcement in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) to remove the bulk billing incentive for pathology providers from 1 July next year may impact on the health of patients.  The government has made a decision to cut MBS fees outside the agreed MBS Review process and without considering the impact on patients and the pathology sector.

Public pathology services are under considerable financial pressure.  They do not receive the same amount of Medicare funding for the same tests as the private sector.  Cutting the bulk billing incentive may cause private pathology providers to start charging co-payments or to charge higher co-payments for pathology services and this can deter patients from having vital pathology tests done.  Public pathology providers will not cease bulk billing patients for Medicare services as they have a responsibility to provide comprehensive access for all Australians and communities, including those who are ‘hard to reach’ either due to geography, disability of socio-economic factors.

Click for full media release.

Contact Public Pathology Australia for further information on the posted release or any of the following:

  • what pathology is
  • how pathology services are funded
  • recently announced pathology changes
  • what public pathology services do and who they are