14 Oct 2009

GPs seek better risk assessments of solo contracts

9:33 pm on 14 October 2009

GPs are demanding more careful assessment of the risks of solo contracts, after a U-turn by the three district health boards in Auckland.

The DHBs on Tuesday announced they are giving 10% of a $560 million laboratory testing contract back to the company that originally provided the service.

Diagnostic Medlab Limited gets all private sector testing work at private hospitals, specialists, homes, fertility treatment and resthomes, while Labtests retains the rest. Both companies are Australian-owned.

Radio New Zealand's health correspondent says DML now has a four-year contract. Labtests' contract is for eight-years.

Medical Association GP Council chairman Mark Peterson says that is a good step, but it should never have been necessary.

He says doctors have been frustrated over shortcomings during the contract change-over and it shows the DHBs need to be alert when contracting for critical services.

The DHBs say they will still save $10 million a year from the change. They say the transition from DML to Labtests was made too quickly.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says he will order a review of what went wrong.

Radio New Zealand's health correspondent understands DML takes up its new contract next week.