Overpayment rectified

Sandra Boardman
Sandra Boardman
Data accuracy problems which resulted in family doctors being overpaid by about $90,000 last year have been addressed, the Southern District Health Board says.

The issue was referred to in a section on primary healthcare targets in Audit New Zealand's October report on the board audit for the last financial year, recently released under the Official Information Act.

The auditors noted there was concern at the Southern Primary Health Organisation (PHO) over some aspects of the accuracy and completeness of results collated and reported by independent practitioners association South Link Health (SLH).

These were based on unexpected fluctuations in results and admission of errors by SLH, resulting in the PHO overpaying GPs.

These concerns resulted in the PHO and SLH mutually agreeing an independent auditor would review SLH's systems and processes which capture data for the primary healthcare performance targets.

District health board planning and funding executive director Sandra Boardman, in an email response to questions on the issue, said the PHO advised the board of overpayments to practices and the PHO managed the recovery processes.

''In this instance, repayment was made.''

The issue was underreporting of performance programme data due to problems extracting the data from some patient management systems at some practices, she said.

This had now been addressed.

The primary health performance targets involve immunisation rates, helping smokers to quit and checks for diabetes and heart health risks.

In more general comments on primary healthcare targets, Audit NZ said in its work with DHBs it found the boards generally did not have controls over much of the performance information from third-party health providers.

Such providers, which include PHOs and other non-governmental organisations, are not subject to audit by the Auditor-general.

''The DHBs have not been able to demonstrate how they know that they can rely on this third-party performance information and appear to largely operate on a trust basis.

''As a result, we have not been able to obtain the evidence needed to be able to express an audit opinion on all the performance information reported by each DHB.''

They gave the example of the target which includes advising smokers to quit, which relied on ''information from general practitioners that we are unable to independently test''.


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