13 October 2009

The announcement by Auckland’s District Health Boards that they will contract Diagostic Medlab to provide part of the laboratory service to relieve pressure on Labtests has been welcomed by the New Zealand Medical Association.

Diagnostic Medlab lost the contract to Labtests in a competitive tender.

“The decision by the Auckland District Health Boards goes some way towards reducing the inherent risk in the current arrangement of having a single provider and is therefore a step in the right direction,” says NZMA GP Council Chair Dr Mark Peterson.

“There has been extreme frustration expressed throughout the Auckland region at the level of service since the transition took place. The NZMA pointed out to successive Governments and the DHBs that there was considerable risk that services would be undermined by switching to a new sole provider and that the transition period was going to be a critical time in the process.”

“We were assured by the Auckland DHBs that contractual arrangements were adequate to ensure the continuation of a high quality service.”

“Unfortunately this has not been the case and our fears were realised. The transition process has seen a major upheaval for Auckland’s health system.”

Dr Peterson says that there are wider lessons to be learnt for District Health Boards throughout the country.
“The situation the Auckland DHBs find themselves in highlights the need for DHBs to be conscious of risks when contracting for critical health services in their regions and to work closely with providers to ensure the needs of the health sector can be met.”

The NZMA will continue to scrutinise the Auckland DHBs and laboratory services in Auckland and to exert pressure on the DHBs to work towards improving services.