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Patients risk missing vital medical tests

21 October 2005

Patients risk missing vital medical tests - NZAPP


Pathologists today expressed their concern about the proposal from the Wellington District Health Board to charge patients for private pathology tests.

The New Zealand Association of Pathology Practices (NZAPP) is the national body representing private providers of pathology services.

“NZAPP is extremely concerned to hear reports that the Wellington District Health Board is considering imposing charges selectively on private patients needing pathology tests,” Dr Paul Ockelford, CEO NZAPP, said today.

“This could seriously disadvantage patients in the Wellington area and prevent them from receiving the medical care they need.

“Infertile couples are not the only ones who will be affected by the proposed charges. Most testing for prostate cancer is done by the private sector, as is a large proportion of testing for Melanoma.

“Imposing charges for tests such as these, just because they are ordered by a private specialist, could result in people at risk delaying tests and missing out on the opportunity for early intervention and treatment. This would cost our health system more in the long run.

“We certainly don’t want to see a situation in which people’s access to tests for serious medical conditions depends on their postcode and not on their health status.

“The laboratory benefit is a patient benefit and should be provided to patients regardless of where they live. Any decisions about additional or part charging should be made by the Ministry of Health on a national basis and not left to individual district health boards (DHBs).

“NZAPP has been very concerned about the inconsistent approach of DHBs to the funding of health services and the impact this has on access to services for consumers.

“The Wellington District Health Board’s proposal undermines the equity of our health system and could put patients at risk. NZAPP calls on the new Health Minister to take immediate action to prevent DHBs from imposing conditions which might lead to uneven access for patients to a vital health care service,” Dr Ockelford said.

ENDS

For more information about NZAPP and pathology in New Zealand go to www.nzapp.org.nz

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