Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Reconsider Costly Wellington Health Lab Contract

Reconsider Costly Wellington Health Lab Contract

Heather Roy Wednesday, 21 June 2006 Press Releases - Health

ACT's Health Spokesman, Heather Roy, has written to the Minister of Health, asking him to reconsider his endorsement in Parliament yesterday of Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley District Health Boards' decision to charge for lab tests ordered by private specialists.

"I have asked Pete Hodgson to reconsider his support for a move which will impose more costs on patients and increase waiting lists", Mrs Roy said.

"Wellingtonians and Hutt Valley residents will have to pay between two and three million dollars a year for lab tests, but there will be a human cost as well.

"For many people, it will mean the difference between prompt private assessment and a long wait for a public specialist.

"Tens of thousands of people are already waiting for a First Specialist Assessment. Increasing the cost of private assessment ensures the public waiting list will continue to grow.

"The people most likely to be pushed into the public queues by lab fees - including a new $13 'encounter fee' - are those on low incomes and with high health needs.

"There's no difference at all between tests recommended by private and public specialists. This just reinforces Labour's artificial barrier between the private and public systems.

"Government should be making sure healthcare is available for everyone, easy to access and affordable, whether it's in the public or private system.

"Mr Hodgson's endorsement of this move will be seen as encouragement for all DHBs across the country to negotiate similar arrangements with their lab service providers.

"All Kiwis should be aware that Labour has given the green light to more costs, delays and pressure in our already overloaded health system.

A copy of the letter from Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs to private specialists outlining the decision to charge for lab tests is available from ACT's website at www.act.org.nz/labletter. Heather Roy's letter to Pete Hodgson is below.

21/06/2006

Hon Pete Hodgson Minister of Health Parliament Buildings Wellington

Dear Minister

I am very concerned at the decision by Capital and Coast DHB and Hutt Valley DHB to charge patients for laboratory tests ordered by private specialists from 1 November 2006. I am especially uneasy about the impact this will have on waiting lists for specialist assessments and the extra costs of laboratory testing that many people will have to bear.

In response to a supplementary question in the House yesterday you said that you "endorse the decision of those two District Health Boards".

The costs are not insignificant. This decision is expected to load an extra cost of $2 million to $3 million a year onto Wellingtonians and Hutt Valley residents who 'go private' for their specialist assessment. Those with health insurance are likely to see their premiums increase, while those without insurance will have to not only find the money for their specialist's bill, but for the tests and the Laboratory's "encounter fee" - an additional charge of $13.

Some private specialists have already informed my office that, to avoid the fees, they intend to send patients back to their GP for the ordering of tests that will not then incur a fee. This will place further pressure on our General Practitioners, who are already working hard to manage the health of their communities. The result will be significant 'double handling', which is unnecessary.

Of course, the other way for people to avoid the fee is for them to see a public specialist. As you are well aware, tens of thousands of New Zealanders are already waiting for a First Specialist Assessment.

By encouraging more people to see public specialists, the waiting lists are likely to continue growing. As people wait longer for specialist assessments, the conditions of those needing treatment will worsen. Ultimately, the cost of waiting could be more than the lab tests are worth, and the cost in human terms will be tragic.

This policy change will hit those less well off the hardest. Wealthy people will not suffer the same discouragement from an additional lab fee, and are not likely to suffer as badly as those without the means to pay higher costs. The people most likely to be pushed into the public queues by this fee are those on low incomes, or those with high health needs, whose families often save or borrow to pay for urgent treatment. The low socio-economic groups you most want to help will be those worst affected.

When patients see a private specialist, they remove themselves from public waiting lists. Specialists working in the private sector thereby help decrease the time people need to wait for both private and public assessment. Surely the work of private specialists deserves to be recognised, instead of being punished by making their patients pay extra fees?

Your public endorsement of this move in the House yesterday will be seen as encouragement for all DHBs across the country to negotiate this arrangement with their lab service providers. I believe all New Zealanders should be concerned that, should they choose to accept financial responsibility for their healthcare by being seen privately, the cost of their healthcare is about to increase once more.

I note that the Health Funds Association is seeking a legal opinion on whether adding this charge breaches people's rights to healthcare.

I hope that you will change your mind about the acceptability of this plan, and ensure that Kiwis do not have to bear the greater expense and longer waiting lists that contracts like this one will create.

I enclose a copy of the letter sent by Capital and Coast DHB and Hutt Valley DHB to specialists.

Yours sincerely

Heather Roy MP Health Spokesman ACT New Zealand

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Reaction

Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced

 

Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>

ALSO:


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>

ALSO:

Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>

ALSO:

Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>

ALSO:

Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election