Funding cut for Nelson GP practice after failure to meet required standards

Collingwood Health on Collingwood St, Nelson.
MARTIN DE RUYTER

Collingwood Health on Collingwood St, Nelson.

A Nelson GP practice has had its funding for patients cut.

Nelson Bays Primary Health terminated its contract with central Nelson practice Collingwood Health after it failed to meet standards set by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

Nelson Bays Primary Health (NBPH) chief executive Angela Francis said the contract was terminated on August 8 after the practice failed to meet the RNZCGP Foundation standards within the timeframe required.

"It is disappointing to have to do this, and many reminders and offers of support were made to the practice over the past 18 months, but the standards are very clear," Francis said. 

"NBPH has been in touch with the practice's patients, to ensure their healthcare needs are met and that they understand their options. If they choose to enrol elsewhere we will support them with this."

She said the notice of termination was given after many reminders over 18 months.

Patients were sent a letter by NBPH on August 15 that said its action might have an impact on the fees charged to patients. 

Francis said the organisation was committed to safe patient care.

"Our role is to ensure quality and accreditation standards are in place across all of the general practices we contract to provide essential primary care in our communities."

There are 25 general practices in the region and the other 24 practices had achieved foundation certification. 

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NBPH was no longer working with Collingwood Health and an independent assessor was working independently to achieve certification.

Collingwood Health practice manager Katherine Hellyer said despite the contract being terminated, there would be no impact on patients and consultation fees would not change. 

The costs would be covered by other funding streams from the Ministry of Health and absorbed by the practice.

She said there had been no discussion with NBPH before the contract was cancelled.

"The first we knew they were cancelling the contract was when they cancelled it."

The practice was "on track" to achieving its foundation certification and Hellyer expected that to happen within a "very short timeframe". 

"We are in the process of achieving it and have other re-assessments booked."

A number of patients had contacted the practice after receiving the letter and most had been supportive of the situation.

"We understand that they are a little upset, it is a disconcerting letter to receive and we are just reassuring them it is business as normal."

Ministry of Health manager  Andy Inder​ said from July 2014 the national contract between district health boards and primary health organisations included the achievement of the RNZCGP foundation standard.

The foundation standard represents the legal, professional, and regulatory requirements for general practice.

General practices were given two years, until July 1, 2016 to comply, then this was extended to July 1, 2017 by agreement between DHBs, PHOs and contracted providers.

Inder said general practices could not operate without the foundation certification as it was a minimum contractual standard.

"The DHB and PHO are currently working with the practice and its enrolled population to ensure continuity of service is maintained."

Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) general manager quality Kate Wang said nationally, there were 282 practices registered with the foundation programme and 250 of those were foundation certified.

Another 26 general practices were working with their respective DHBs and PHOs to monitor progress on achieving foundation certification. Six practices had been given extensions to achieve the certification.

What are DHBs, PHOs and GPs?

District Health Board (DHB)

There are 20 district health boards in New Zealand that provide or fund health services. Services are funded by the Ministry of Health.

Primary Health Organisation (PHO)

There are 32 PHOs that provide essential primary health care services, mostly through general practices, to people who are enrolled in their region. PHOs are funded by DHBs.

General Practice (GP)

Also known as a family doctor, general practices are privately owned and set their own fees. The cost of a visit is lower for enrolled patients because the Government subsidises the fee through the PHO.

Source: Ministry of Health

 - Stuff

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