Jan 29, 2020

Charging patients for COVID related consultations

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.  This fee only applies to a doctor consultation primarily related to a flu or cold like illness where covid 19 needs to be considered. If you need a swab, this part of the service is currently fully funded with no co-pay. 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 with booked appointments so we can avoid long queues. 

We are very happy to discuss this with you further. 

Your CityMed Team

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