Jan 29, 2020

Charging patients for COVID related consultations

                                           Covid-19 consultation fees.

The Ministry of Health continues to state that Covid-19 related work is free despite being aware that the District Health Boards (DHBs) have been reducing their payments to GPs for this work. The initial payment schedule released in April by the DHBs didn’t cover our costs, but at the time we were in the middle of dealing with the pandemic and just had to get on with it.

Every few weeks the DHBs have revised the funding schedule. Every time this has resulted in less funding for GP clinics than the previous schedule. It is now about half what it was, and we have had to introduce a patient co-pay of $30 to make the service sustainable as we know it will be needed for quite a long time. As a central Auckland medical centre, we have higher overheads when compared with other medical practices around New Zealand, but this is not recognised in the funding formula.  

We are very likely to have another community outbreak of Covid-19 in New Zealand and strongly believe in the need for ongoing surveillance testing not just for the high risk patients but also those deemed to be low risk in order to find an outbreak as quickly as possible. If we don’t look, we won’t find it until it is well entrenched.  We are very disappointed in the attitude of the DHBs in not providing the funding and support required for providing this service. It is also frustrating that the Ministry of Health are continuing to make statements regarding a “free” service when they are aware that the DHBs have cut the funding.

We have set up a very efficient Covid assessment and management system where you book a phone or video consultation and if needed, we then arrange for a swab to be taken in our red stream clinic run in the afternoons.

The CBACs are currently offering a free service as they are funded differently to us. Click here for a list of the ones currently operating in Auckland.

We are very happy to discuss this with you further.

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