General practices facing a major rural funding shake-up are
being reassured by the Southern District Health Board.
New funding rules to be phased in from July could end top-up
rural funding for districts with more than 15,000 people,
affecting Queenstown and possibly other Otago centres.
However, no decisions have been made yet about how the rules
would be applied in the South.
A report to a health board subcommittee last week prepared by
staff said the shake-up gave the board flexibility in
allocating funding across the district.
Confirmation of the change last week prompted Queenstown
Medical Centre to issue a statement criticising the health
board for not consulting GPs.
Health board planning and funding director Sandra Boardman
said no decisions had been made yet, and there would be no
sudden changes to funding, as transitional funds were
The key decisions would be made by the southern health
alliance leadership team, the new joint committee established
last year to improve community health services.
Mrs Boardman acknowledged the situation was ''a bit
confusing''. There was no time frame for decisions.
Asked if practices could go out of business, she said that
was the ''last thing'' the health board wanted.
''The DHB is really keen to support all our practices. Our
general practices are the touch point for all of our
population, in terms of accessing healthcare, and we can't
afford to lose any of them,'' Mrs Boardman said.
In the press statement, Queenstown Medical Centre said
Queenstown's rural status should not be removed unless Lakes
District Hospital had a significant upgrade in service level.
If it went ahead, the loss of status could affect services at
the hospital, as well as in general practice, it said.
The health board had not sufficiently consulted GPs about the
Adoption of the principle was not mandatory, and the decision
rested with the southern health alliance leadership team, the
medical centre said.
General practices within 30km or 30 minutes of a base
hospital might also lose funding under the changes.