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Privatisation of Laboratory Services Not the Answer



Privatisation of Laboratory Services Not the Answer

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is worried public hospital managers are poised to privatise all or part of the hospital laboratories that look after the health needs of the greater Wellington region.

The managers of Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast District Health Boards (DHBs) are currently considering the future of the region’s hospital laboratory service, and are expected to make a decision before Christmas, says ASMS Executive Director Ian Powell.

“It’ll be a lousy Christmas present if they do go ahead with privatising the hospital laboratory service.”

He says the DHBs are looking at two options, both of them poor - a partnering arrangement ‘joint venture’ between a private laboratory and DHBs, or having a single private laboratory provider. Both involve privatisation through a narrowed down so-called consultation process seemingly set up to lead to a pre-determined privatised outcome.

“Both of these options have the potential to further destabilise the laboratory workforce, which is already vulnerable, as well as fragmenting services and having implications for clinical decision-making and patient safety.

“The DHBs are hoping for efficiencies and savings, but we think the risks of going down the privatisation track will outweigh any benefits that might accrue. All of the analysis carried out so far indicates quite clearly that the hospital laboratory service is not broken. It just needs some fine-tuning, which is what the DHBs should be focusing on.”

Mr Powell says the ASMS supports a third option that does not include privatisation. Instead it involves building on the existing strengths of the regional laboratory service and developing a shared data repository.

The ASMS has made a written submission to the DHBs’ team looking at laboratory services, and a copy is attached.

Ian Powell



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