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Minister: Too Much Of A Burden For GPs

Health Minister Annette King says she is concerned GPs are having to spend too much time filling in forms, keeping administrative records, processing accident claims, and providing reports for other government agencies.

Mrs King was commenting on results of a survey carried out since 1999 by the General Practice Test Panel for Compliance Costs.

The panel surveyed 30 general practices to determine the time and cost relating to 13 common tasks, including completing ACC forms, identifying patients' Community Health Card status, and obtaining National Health Index numbers. The annual average compliance time for the 13 tasks surveyed was 221 hours, at a total cost of $14,455 per practice.

Mrs King said: "It is important to look closely at administrative burdens associated with new and existing regulations, and to make sure benefits outweigh the costs. Service providers, like GPs, are in a good position to comment on the costs and value of rules and processes.

"While some documentation and information collected is important, some may be unnecessary or overly bureaucratic. Completion of ACC forms took the most time and was most expensive. On average each general practice surveyed completed at least 756 forms each year to comply with ACC requirements alone. The average annual cost to GPs in time and money was 77 hours and $9,298.

"It is difficult for GPs to pass the cost of compliance on to patients as it creates a risk that cost will be a barrier to people accessing essential primary health care.

"Recommendations in the report identify ways to reduce compliance costs, and to direct time and money into improving health. I'm pleased the response from most government agencies has been constructive. I expect many recommendations will be implemented soon, and I want follow-up reports to see action is taken.

"I also intend that the panel, or a similar group, will in future be invited to examine processes before they are introduced in order to minimise compliance costs."

The report can be viewed on the Ministry of Health's website from this evening: (under "Publications")

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