NZMA Shares Concerns On DHB Lab Services

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) shares the concerns of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) about the possibility that the three Wellington regional District Health Boards (DHBs) may outsource their hospital laboratory services for the hospitals.

“We understand that the DHBs are looking to cut costs,” says NZMA Chair Dr Mark Peterson, “but with about 70 percent of decision making in hospital dependent on lab tests, this issue is too important to risk the disruption and challenges that would inevitably follow a merger or transition of these services to a private provider.

“As ASMS points out, current laboratory services are not ‘broke’ and do not need ‘fixing’, but require only fine tuning.

“Past experiences—such as that of Mid Central DHB—have shown a lack of significant savings, and the absence of a shared workforce culture that then took years to establish.

“Such a move would be driven primarily by money considerations. The future of pathology, the development of its workforce, and the integration between hospital and community testing services should all be carefully considered before any rash moves are made.”