Community Service Card fees
When the government promised cheaper GP visits for patients with Community Services Cards ( CSC) we were very supportive. Under the previous CSC system back in 2002 patients with cards had the cost of the consultation topped-up by the government and this worked well for many years and is a much fairer system.
Unfortunately, the government got cold feet because they were worried they could not afford the cost of this as more patients required more consultations, so they invented a new CSC deal where they would guess how many consultations would be needed and pay GPs a lump sum to compensate.
At Woodham Road we are really worried that this new system is not sustainable. The government appears to want to move to a system like the UK which makes no sense because the NHS is in crisis. There each consultation is limited to 5 – 7 minutes, patients are not allowed more than one problem per consultation and you have to wait 2-3 weeks to get an appointment. Already here in New Zealand most medical centres that charged $18.50 before the CSC have a wait of 2 to 3 weeks to be seen.
One way we could make this new deal work is to reduce the consultation to 10 minutes. Patients with CSC would have to pay for equipment or dressing material but those without cards wouldn’t. We could start charging CSC card holders for other aspects of the consultation like referral letters but this would mean patients with CSC wouldn’t know what their bill was until they were leaving and it may be significantly more that the $18.50. It would create a 2 tier system where those with CSC get second rate care.
We think that is really unfair and goes against everything we believe. The patients with CSC are often our most vulnerable patients with the most complex problems that need more care not less. We really don’t want to start rushing people through in 10 minutes, its not good for you and its not good for us.
Some people might think that this is about how much we get paid, but we assure you it is not. In order to push the health system in the direction they want the government has promised doctors taking the deal that they will get paid more not less.
Back in December 2018 when all this happened we promised to review this regularly. Since then we have noticed practices around town have significantly increased their fees for non-CSC holders. Also several practices have changed to 10 or 12 minute consultations as we predicted and this has been applied to everyone meaning non-CSC patients are now paying more for less. On top of that other practices have started charging for referral letters and equipment. So for now we at Woodham Road have not accepted this CSC deal.
In the meantime we will continue to give you the best care we can and we will continue to try and discount the cost for patients who we know are struggling financially as we always have. There are funding systems available to us so if you are worried about your bill please let us know so we can help as much as we can.