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PHOs back GPs

PHO Alliance
Media Statement
21 May 2006

For immediate release

PHOs back GPs

The PHO Alliance today joined the GP Leaders Forum in opposing regulation of GP fees in return for 45-64 year old patients being given a small subsidy toward the consultation fee.

The PHO Alliance represents the Government’s own structure for managing primary care for more than 2 million New Zealanders.

Hamish Kynoch, acting chairman of the PHO Alliance, said most GPs would never agree to fee regulation, so the Government would not be able to deliver on its promised subsidy to all New Zealanders.

“If the Government carried out its threat to exclude GPs who do not agree to fee regulation, then large swathes of our community will not get the subsidy.

“That is likely to result in more sickness, and more visits to hospitals,” Mr Kynoch said.

Mr Kynoch said PHOs were in a unique position of knowing their community intimately, so understood that the needs of patients were best met by keeping GPs.

“If the Government wants to regulate prices, it will force GPs out of business, and out of our communities. That will not be good for the health of our people.

“The scheme steps well beyond the influence that government should have on private businesses in a competitive market and this will affect their long term sustainability and have a detrimental effect an already fragile workforce.

“Even if it was acceptable, it is impractical. It sets a nationwide benchmark for an acceptable price and will not allow price increases to deviate from it. It therefore takes no account of individual general practice circumstances (such as investment in IT) or business goals. We doubt the ability of the benchmark to be sufficiently flexible to accurately represent real life increases in costs and income expectations,” Mr Kynoch said.

The PHO Alliance supports writing nationally agreed terms of reference for the fee review committee process presently provided for in the existing contract that PHOs have with DHBs.

ENDS

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