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NZMA Disappointed By Decision

Tuesday 30th May 2006

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) has expressed strong disappointment at today's decision by the District Health Boards to attempt to inflict a new contract on PHOs which would result in the Government controlling General Practice fees. The outcome will be that most general practices will not agree to participate and many New Zealanders will miss out on increased patient subsidies from 1 July.

Following the predictable failure of today's meeting of DHBs and PHOs to agree on terms for the proposed contract, NZMA Chairman, Dr Ross Boswell said "This is a very sad day for New Zealand. In its quest to achieve control over general practice fees, the Government is putting the future of viable, high quality general practice services at risk. Indeed if they are not careful, their approach could threaten the success of the entire Primary Healthcare Strategy."

Dr Boswell added "It is reasonable for the Government to expect that its increased funding in primary care is passed on to the patients. There is strong evidence, including the Government's own surveys, to show that general practice has passed on these subsidies, and it will continue to do so.

The Minister acknowledged yesterday that this was the case for the vast majority of practices. So, we must conclude that these moves to require approval of any fee changes are for the express purpose of controlling general practice. Like any other small business, operating in an area where costs cannot be constrained, general practice will not accept this."

"The Minister of Health must accept responsibility for this situation. He needs to meet with the leaders of general practice to find a way around this impasse" said Dr Boswell.

ENDS

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