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GPs hold firm in subsidy dispute

22nd May 2005

General practice dispute escalates

At this weekend’s annual conference of Independent Practitioners Associations, the GP delegates were told to “hold tight” in their campaign of non-compliance in the dispute with the Ministry of Health over its attempts to control general practice.

In protest against the Ministry’s micro-management, general practice last week decided not to provide information important to the government’s subsidy programme.

The conference held a special forum hosted by the GP Leaders group, in which the reasons behind the dispute were detailed.

IPA Council Chairman Doug Baird told a special conference forum on the subject that “the profession people trust the most – general practice, is being controlled by the profession they trust the least - politicians.”

He described the dispute to the conference:

The Ministry of Health has been increasing its bureaucratic requirements of us.

The Ministry is trying to dictate not only what we do and how we do it, but even the price we charge after we pass on the government subsidy.

By manipulating from Wellington how we run our practices they are reducing our ability to deliver health care in the community.

This has come to a head because the Ministry has broken its contract in again trying to impose new conditions on general practice in its plans for the 18-24 year old subsidy.

The conditions, for each practice to list every single fee it charges and to have those fees approved by the government, amounts to bureaucratic price control.

We are happy to pass the subsidy on to patients, but in doing so we do not expect the government to use the opportunity to control our businesses and our delivery of quality care.

The Ministry must agree not to over-step its boundaries in the future. It must agree to talk with us, discuss with us, negotiate with us, and to listen to our ideas for delivering better health care at the coal face.

We are therefore drawing up a set of conditions for a renegotiation of how the Ministry acts and interacts with us in the future.

This will rebalance the relationship so the requirements of general practice will have much more influence on shaping primary health care.

Until the Ministry of Health agrees to those conditions, all general practices should continue not to comply with the Ministry’s request for information in its latest circular on the 18-24 year old subsidy.

/Ends

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