National Poison's Information Centre Review of Funding Model Options

Project Type - Funding, Public health


  • 2012


HOI was engaged to formulate and assess a number of charging options for equitably and transparently funding the provision of telephone advice by Poisons Information Centres (PICs) located in four centres (NSW, Vic, Qld and WA). Together, these four Centres provide poisons information services to the general public and health professionals resident in all eight states and territories. The objectives of the review were to:

  • Analyse the current operating expenditure of the four PICs in terms of salaries, wages and on-costs;
  • Estimate the efficient staffing costs of handling incoming calls according to different scenarios;
  • Analyse the additional financial implications of the introduction of the toxicologist charging arrangements proposed by NSW against historical charging arrangements to ascertain potential budgetary impacts on individual jurisdictions;
  • Consider a range of charging options for the telephone services provided by the PICs (SPI and toxicologist), and provide an analysis of each in terms of benefits, ease of introduction and potential for perverse incentives or unintended consequences;
  • Consider a range of funding options for these telephone services (SPI and toxicologist) that are provided to all eight states and territories, providing the rationale and underpinning method for each option. This analysis was to include an assessment of the benefits, ease of introduction and potential for perverse incentives or unintended consequences, and include a comparison with the base case; and
  • If funds pooling was recommended, determine whether this would also require the consideration of the mechanisms for holding and disbursing funds.

HOI developed charging model options based on:

  1. A comparative trend analysis of call volumes undertaken across PICs in financial years 2009/10 and 2010/114.
  2. Data analysis which identified the drivers of cost based on the time spent to respond to calls for poisons information for each service provider.
  3. Assessment of the funding model options for the provision of poisons information services including an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each model option

Consistent with the objectives of the Review, HOI produced a comprehensive and evidence based final report identifying:

  • Issues relevant to introducing a new funding model for PICs;
  • Options for the development of a funding model;
  • Attributes desirable in any funding model for health services; and
  • Possible applications of a particular funding approach in providing poisons information advisory service.