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Media Statement - from South Link Health Re: Savings Dispute

MEDIA STATEMENT (released at 19 February 2014)

Additional health services from savings made in laboratory and pharmaceutical budgets : South Link Health Inc (SLH)

1. SLH is an association of clinical and administrative staff of general practices which commenced in the early 1990s. It was formed as a result of a pilot study which demonstrated that groups of general practitioners could manage pharmaceutical and laboratory budgets - resulting in savings which could be invested in additional health services for patients, along with education and training for general practice staff which in turn delivered further benefits to the community.

2. A wide range of additional health care programmes were identified, and SLH (with and through its network of general practice members) has successfully delivered these over several years, which has benefitted many patients across the South Island.

3. A series of contracts were entered into between SLH and the funder (initially the Southern Regional Health Authority and latterly the Southern District Health Board), which set out, among other things, how savings would be calculated and passed on to fund the health and training programmes.

4. A dispute has arisen between SLH and the funder, as to whether or not the funder had agreed that the additional health programmes should be approved for funding from the savings made by the SLH general practices.

5. SLH is clear that the programmes had been agreed to by various contract managers representing the funder 6. SLH is also very clear that no money is owed by it to the Southern DHB and this is borne out by all of the contract documents, between SLH and the funder of the day. None of the savings were retained by SLH. All of the savings have been returned to the community via health programmes and medical and nursing training.

7. While the matter has been the subject of on-going debate between the parties and also mediation, no Court proceedings have ever been filed by either party.

8. It is most unfortunate that allegations of fraud have been made by people who are not privy to the complex contractual dealings between the parties. There has been full disclosure of all relevant dealings by SLH and answers have been supplied to all questions asked by Southern DHB. The parties have been in dialogue for several years seeking to resolve these issues. This is a civil dispute and there can be no possible question of fraud.

9. The Board of SLH is hopeful that the matter can be brought to an end in the near future so that all parties can move forward, and so that focus can be returned to SLH's objective to improve community health.

ENDS

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