GPs' group mulls implications of ruling

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 27/11/2012
diana scott
NATASHA MARTIN/ Fairfax NZ
BATTLE: The outcome of a court case over after-hours funding brought by Temuka GPs and Geraldine GP Diana Scott (pictured) could have national implications.

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The outcome of a court case over after-hours funding for Temuka and Geraldine GPs could have national implications, a spokesperson for the General Practice Leaders' Forum (GPLF) says.

Forum chairman Dr Tim Malloy said the ongoing battle between all Temuka doctors, Geraldine GP Diana Scott, the South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB) and South Link Health had been followed closely by the GPLF, due to the wider implications it could have.

All Temuka GPs and Dr Scott applied to the High Court for an interim injunction against the SCDHB and South Link Health to get back funding held back after they terminated their after-hours roster in August last year.

Justice Whata ruled in favour of the health board and South Link Health, saying he did not believe the GPs had a strong case.

"GPLF will explore the national implications of Judge Whata's opinion as they have the potential to affect the contracting environment for the whole of primary healthcare. GPLF's work will focus on two central issues: the professional and contractual obligations for providing after-hours services and the sustainability of these responsibilities," Dr Malloy said.

The GPs terminated their shared on-call roster and after-hours services following a breakdown in funding negotiations with the DHB.

The move followed a health board review of the system used to allocate rural funds, which resulted in Temuka falling below the funding threshold.

GPs involved went to mediation with the board, which offered to continue to pay the GPs the rural funding in full if primary care services resumed from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

The GPs declined the offer, which meant the funding did not resume.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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