30 Jun 2009

Questions over tendering-out of hospital services

5:15 pm on 30 June 2009

The Government has been told tendering-out of hospital and community laboratory services may be saving district health boards about $50 million per year.

But a paper prepared for the Government, obtained under the Official Information Act, details numerous drawbacks associated with the process and questions whether savings will be long term.

DHBs have put lab services up for tender over the past six years to limit rapidly rising costs for community lab testing, in particular.

A report obtained by Radio New Zealand outlines the cost savings of the process, which has led to different arrangements and charges in different parts of the country.

It says there is inconsistency in services nationally, a lack of investment in equipment and systems, and discontent in the workforce.

Job losses are also a worry - as is a lack of long-term security for labs. The Government says it's looking at the concerns.