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Substances, including blood being tested in a laboratory

In what's being seen internationally as a unique and highly risky experiment, a new firm is poised to begin doing all community diagnostic testing for well over a million Aucklanders.

The challenge is huge: in early September, a firm which is still being set up, will take over the sole-supply contract to test up to 36 thousand blood and other samples a day.

Pathology and lab-industry experts are watching nervously, with many fearing the changes could have a catastrophic effect on a much wider scale.

Health correspondent, Karen Brown, investigates.