13 Feb 2009

Auckland laboratory service dispute ends

6:01 am on 13 February 2009

The long-running legal dispute over who provides $500 million worth of community laboratory services in Auckland appears to be over.

The Supreme Court has turned down leave for Diagnostic Medlab Ltd to appeal against a Court of Appeal decision.

Diagnostic Medlab was replaced as Auckland's main pathology contractor by Labtests Ltd. That decision was first overturned, then reinstated by the courts.

The proposed appeal by Diagnostic Medlab Limited involved what it called the award of a monopoly contract by several Auckland district health boards for lab services.

Diagnostic Medlab chief executive Arthur Taylor says this was the last legal option open to the company.

He says the company employs about 600 staff and will now be talking to them about their options and to the district health boards about what happens next.

Labtests says Supreme Court ruling on Thursday ends two years of frustration and will enable the company to finally get on with the job.

It expects to take over lab work for the Auckland district health boards in August.

The boards are confident there will be a smooth transition. Chairperson Geraint Martin says it is hoped many Diagnostic Medlab staff will transfer and existing expertise will stay on.

Mr Martin says the boards will be working with Labtests to make sure data is properly transferred, doctors know how to use the new system and where new collection points will be.