A senior industry leader has questioned the accuracy of the testimony given to the Senate’s aged care inquiry by the Department of Health and Ageing.

In his submission to the inquiry, TriCare CEO, Jim Toohey said he would assist the committee by “clarifying” the evidence provided by previous witnesses.

“We particularly are concerned that some testimony…may mislead the committee about what is actually happening on the ground,” the submission said.

Although Mr Toohey’s submission did not specifically name any previous witnesses, much of it focused on statements made by Dr David Cullen, an assistant secretary in the department’s ageing and aged care division.

On 13 March Dr Cullen told the inquiry that recent Bentleys and Stewart Brown aged care benchmarking surveys had demonstrated increasing returns throughout the sector.

But the TriCare submission said this assertion was incorrect because neither survey compares the same cohort of providers in successive surveys.

It noted that Bentleys Chartered Accountants had said profitability was “trending downwards” on a macro level and the average result in the Stewart Brown survey was still a loss.

“A further point is that even the top quartile providers are not showing returns which justify rebuilding or constructing new single-bed, modern purpose-built non-extra service facilities,” the submission said.

The TriCare submission also questioned the assertion that the ABS building activity reports showed record levels of aged care construction.

Mr Toohey said in the submission that the data Dr Cullen was referring to probably included retirement village developments as well as Commonwealth-funded residential aged care projects.

“Our research confirms that [there] is no specific measure of government-funded residential care facilities and no conclusion which can be reached in relation to government funded residential aged care construction via ABS data,” it said.

Mr Toohey spoke at a public hearing of the Senate inquiry this morning.

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