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Laboratory Tests Bitter Pill For Private Patients

Laboratory Tests A Bitter Pill For Private Patients

Heather Roy
Tuesday, 24 October 2006
Press Releases - Health

Patients in the Wellington region are being told by private specialists that they will be sent back to GPs to have laboratory tests ordered after 1 November, to save them the cost of the tests and a $13 administrative fee, says ACT Health Spokesman, Heather Roy.

"In June, Capital and Coast DHB and Hutt Valley DHB jointly wrote to specialists, outlining their proposal to withdraw funding for laboratory tests ordered by private specialists. I then wrote to the Minister of Health, Pete Hodgson, expressing my concern", Mrs Roy said.

"He indicated in his reply that he was in favour of this proposal, and indicated that charging patients for tests ordered by private specialists would probably be implemented by all District Health Boards.

"When questioned in Parliament today, the Minister said six to seven million dollars of savings would be saved in the Wellington region as a result of this policy change. This assumes that doctors and their patients will simply swallow this bitter pill. Minister Hodgson is so out of touch, he hasn't realised doctors will try to get around the system to benefit their patients.

"This decision creates two tiers, increasing the barrier between the public and private systems, when greater co-operation between public and private providers is the very thing that will help the health system deliver treatment more efficiently.

"I have heard several reports about specialists who intend to refer patients back to their GPs to have tests ordered. That will load more pressure onto already overworked GPs, and will discourage people from 'going private', instead adding to already burgeoning waiting lists at our public hospitals.

"We should be making it easier for people to get the treatment they need, instead of making it tougher and more expensive.

"This decision devalues the work of private specialists, who deserve recognition and reward for helping contain waiting lists.

"At the moment, only Wellington region patients are affected, but it is clear from the Minister's comments, and a letter he wrote to me on 19 July, that he intends to encourage this practice nationwide", Mrs Roy said.


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