Doctors to ditch Eastern Bay

SERVICE DELIVERY: The decision by Green Cross would impact on staff levels within the Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance.

AN Eastern Bay health service has accused its Western Bay counterpart of luring Whakatane practices to it with the promise of bulk funding.

Green Cross owns three doctor practices in Whakatane – The Doctors Phoenix on Pyne Street, The Doctors Kopeopeo on James Street and Total Health on The Strand. The practices are members of the Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance, which administers funding for the provision of key services.

However, on July 1 Green Cross will leave the Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance and join the Western Bay Primary Health Alliance, which is based in Tauranga.

The move breaks the “gentleman’s agreement” that has previously existed between the two groups and Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance chairman Bryan Gould said he was concerned about the impact on Eastern Bay clients.

“My view is that the Eastern Bay is an area on its own; it has particular issues of its own.

We have a much higher proportion of Maori population and a greater deprivation of varying kinds.

We feel we need a particular approach, which we have been developing, and we work closely with iwi. There is a lot of work to be done and we don’t see that is going to be helped by these practices transferring from Whakatane to Tauranga – things look a lot different from Tauranga.”

Mr Gould said the Green Cross practices were lured away by the promise that it would be easier to receive funding.

“We fund services based on patient outcomes and the money is dependent on achieve those outcomes. The Western Bay funding is made on a bulk funding basis and so as a result there is a lot more discretion. They can decide how much money goes into the shareholders’ pockets.

“That is going to be a bad deal for patients and we don’t think the Western Bay have the expertise to offer services in the Eastern Bay.”

Mr Gould said the decision by Green Cross would impact on staff levels within the Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance.

“All of the forward planning becomes much more difficult if we can’t be confident of the clinics we are going to have.

“We are hoping to work more closely with the Western Bay so that this doesn’t happen again, because if this continues the primary health alliances will be fighting each other and nobody wins from that.”

Green Cross spokesman Grant Bai said he was confident that the Whakatane staff understood their clients and would continue to provide a quality service.

“We have fantastic teams in Whakatane who provide health care every day and understand the local needs very well. We asked what support they needed to be able to deliver the best care and they wanted to provide a range of health services directly to their patients that they can’t always do under the Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance because they have their own teams providing those services.

“Some of the key services, for example, include Maori health initiatives, diabetes, care plus, smoking cessation and youth mental health issues amongst others.

“Our health teams know their patients, they have the relationship with them and we think they’re best placed to decide how and what services they should be delivering to them. And patient first, what’s the most convenient and efficient way to give people the health care they need, rather than moving them around the system to suit funders.

“This isn’t a sudden change, we’ve talked with the Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance for a number of years now about this. And this change is helping our Whakatane practices to best deliver services the community needs, not about the funding pass through.”