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Auckland GP meeting told to reject Govt plan

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

GP Leaders’ Forum

Auckland GP meeting told to reject Govt plan to set fees

GP Leaders told an extremely well attended meeting of Waitemata GPs that they must reject any agreements with their Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) concerning the July rollout of the next Government patient subsidy (for 45-64 year olds).

It was made very clear that General Practice wanted eligible patients to receive the promised new funding but that GPs cannot allow the Government to use this opportunity to impose unnecessary rules that equate to “fees control”.

The GPs, members of a wide variety of PHOs across Auckland, were for the first time given full details of the Government plan to review and approve any GP fee changes before their patients would receive the subsidy, and then into the future.

Addressing the meeting at The Apollo Health Centre, GPLF chairman, Dr Peter Foley, said GPs were not being given the full story by Health bureaucrats.
“GPs are being told they are simply being required under the new rules to pass on the subsidy. We’re informing them that if they sign, the Government will be able to set their fees from that moment onwards.

“GPs at the meeting again confirmed they would pass on the full amount of the subsidy, but they were unanimous that they would not allow control of their fees,” Mr Foley said.

He said some GPs at the meeting who were not members of the organising PHO, ProCare, were surprised to learn that the new fees review proposal states that DHBs will set fee thresholds and have complete control regarding the refusing to approve any fee increases that go over this.

“The Ministry of Health and DHB’s have not been upfront about how they will be able to exert control over fees if GPs agree to the subsidy requirements.
The overwhelming sentiments at the meeting were total support for the GPLF’s current advice, and absolute shock that some of their PHOs seem no longer to have their best interests of general practice at heart.

“The GPs at the meeting shared our concern that government fee control would make it hard to keep a general practice commercially viable. That would lead to GPs leaving the sector, and would discourage others from becoming GPs.

“That would mean patients will then have even less access to primary health services, and cost pressure could lead to lower quality health care,” Dr Foley said.

ENDS

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