Cost of being ill in Queenstown
Queenstown's largest centre of general practitioners charges a standard consultation fee that outstrips all other practices in the lower South Island.
Any registered patient of Queenstown Medical Centre, which includes its Remarkables Park and Arrowtown bases, aged over 18, is charged $59.50 for a standard consultation.
The centre is followed closely by the only other large practice in the area, the Wakatipu Medical Centre, which charges $54.
This compares to an average cost of a GP consultation in Wanaka of $41, Invercargill $39 and Dunedin $41.
Queenstown Medical Centre chief operating officer Shane Zeederberg said the charge reflected the extra services the business offered.
"We are well aware that we're at the higher end but we try to take a step back and look at what we're providing.
"We are the only practise for quite some way that is open seven days a week 'til 8pm and our fee structure is reflective of providing those services, " he said.
Users of the after hours service were not subsidised by regular patients as unregistered patients and overseas visitors using the services were charged additional fees.
However, the cost of providing a stand-alone after hours service would be prohibitive, he said.
All the fees were regulated and subject to scrutiny.
"Certainly if they breach certain limits they are subject to review. We've never breached those tolerances."
The fee had only lifted by about $2 in the past two-and-a- half years, he said.
The cost of infrastructure also had an effect with real estate at a premium in the area.
However, doctors' salaries were comparable with other areas.
At its three bases Queenstown Medical Centre had about 55,000 "patient encounters" a year. About 12,500 were at the after hours clinic in Queenstown.
The Wakatipu Medical Centre practise manager did not return calls to the Mirror by deadline.
- The Mirror
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