14 Nov 2008

Aucklanders against paying for private medical tests

2:45 pm on 14 November 2008

Many Aucklanders have told district health boards they are firmly against having to pay for diagnostic tests ordered for them by private specialists.

For the past two months, health boards in the Auckland region have been consulting the public over the future shape of community laboratory services, which cost more than $73 million a year.

More than 7,000 people have expressed a view during the consultation period, which ends on Friday.

The consultation has gone ahead amid a continuing legal row over which firm - interim provider Diagnostic Medlab Limited, or Lab Tests - will ultimately retain the multimillion-dollar contract for the work.

Key questions have included the number and location of sample collection centres and whether people should pay for privately ordered tests, as occurs in Wellington, Hutt Valley, Southland and Otago.

Counties-Manukau District Health Board chief Geraint Martin is reassuring Aucklanders they will continue to have the community diagnostic services they need, even if changes are made.

Mr Martin says decisions will be released early next year.

A protest was held in Auckland on Friday about possible service changes.