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GPs reject Government plan to set their fees

GP Leaders’ Forum
Media Release
15 May 2006


GPs reject Government plan to set their fees


GP leaders today issued a “red letter” to the nation’s general practitioners, directing them not to sign any agreements with their Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) concerning the July rollout of the next Government patient subsidy (for 45-64 year olds).

The Government wants DHBs to review and approve any GP fee changes in advance, and for GPs to provide District Health Boards with fees information for a central national database and posting on a website.

GPLF chairman, Dr Peter Foley, said the requirements will result in Government control of fees, and thus, control of their businesses.

"New Zealand enjoys a partnership of private and public funding of general practice services. General practitioners pass on government contribution to their patients, and will continue to do that for new or increased subsidies.

“However, if we agree to the Government setting our fees, then we are handing over control of our businesses. We will not put our viability into the hands of bureaucrats.”

“History has shown that any fee set by Government is very unlikely to be enough to pay for the actual cost of delivering full service healthcare.

“As a result, GPs will leave general practice, and others are even less likely to come into primary health. Patients will then have even less access, and we think it likely they will experience lower quality health care,” Dr Foley said.

The new fees review proposal states that DHBs will set fee thresholds and will refuse to approve any fee increases that go over this.

Dr Foley said general practices need to be able to set their fees based on local conditions, such as the average number of individual patient contacts, and rising costs such as nursing services and rent. He said that for general practice to remain viable, GPs need the freedom and independence to charge fees that cover their costs.

The GPLF direction to GPs comes in advance of consultation by PHOs with their local doctors in the coming weeks, as PHOs present the transparency and fees review requirements for the rollout of subsidies for 45 to 64 year old patients.

“It is our hope that eligible patients will not miss out on their increased subsidy this July,” Dr Foley said.

ENDS

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