A merger of medical practices has proved costly for hundreds of patients who will pay more than double to see a doctor soon.
The Health New Lynn medical centre lost its Very Low Cost Access payments funding in July because it didn't meet the high-needs patient threshold of 50 per cent.
Fees for enrolled adults at Health New Lynn medical centre will go from $17.50 to $40 from September 15.
The centre opened its doors to patients in April after Golf Road Medical Centre, New Lynn Medical Centre and Kinross Family Medical Centre merged.
Out of the centres 17,500 enrolled patients, 4000 are considered high-needs - meaning the centre falls short of the threshold by 30 per cent.
Chief executive Greg Clarke says the practices were unaware they would fall below the threshold when they were planning the merger.
"We had been talking to the district health board, Ministry of Health and PHO and understood it was all OK.
"I'm absolutely gutted," he says.
Mr Clarke says the centre challenged the ministry's decision but to no avail.
"We're hugely disappointed and unfortunately the outcome wasn't what we had hoped for," he says.
"We're caught in the middle of a horrible situation and have no option but to increase fees."
Titirangi resident Jean Galbraith, 71, visits New Lynn Medical Centre at least once every three weeks since fracturing her arm and dislocating her elbow in April.
Mrs Galbraith, a pensioner, will now have to pay $35 instead of $17.50.
She doesn't have any other source of income and worries about whether young families will be able to afford a visit to the doctors.
"Health New Lynn is a very good facility but it's busy.
"There have been times when I have had to go to a different doctor because mine was too busy even though I had an appointment," she says.
General practitioner and one of the four founders Philip Rushmer says the centre focus on the values of affordability, accessibility and quality.
"Unfortunately affordability has taken a bit of a knock."
The Health Ministry's group manager of community health services improvement Sue Dashfieldsays practices that charge low fees typically serve high-need communities but the combining of practices means the new centre doesn't meet the current criteria. The increase will put the centre in line with other health centres.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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