20 Feb 2014

Doctors reject fraud allegations

12:31 pm on 20 February 2014

A South Island network of family doctors says it is astonished to be the focus of suggestions of possible fraud over a contract with health boards.

Kevin Hague.

Kevin Hague. Photo: GREEN PARTY

The issue arose during a health select committee hearing involving the Southern District Health Board's financial review at Parliament on Wednesday.

Committee member and Green MP Kevin Hague told MPs the group known as South Link Health was in a long-running dispute with Southern DHB over up to $15 million in savings it had made for health boards.

Mr Hague demanded to know whether the DHB had received legal advice that fraud had occurred.

Southern DHB chiefs told Mr Hague they had received legal advice that fraud was a possibility, but further investigations would be needed before that could be decided. They said they would refer the matter to police if there was fraud, but were still pursuing other processes.

Outside the committee, however, Mr Hague said that was not good enough. He has lodged Official Information Act requests to find out what has happened to the money and has asked the Auditor-General to investigate.

A lawyer representing South Link Health, Frazer Barton, says $6 million to $8 million worth of savings made under a contract between South Link and the predecessors of the DHBs has been spent.

"Now those savings were made, the monies have all been expended for health-related services over the years in the regions. So it's not as though there's a whole lot of money sitting there that someone's got. It's all been spent, it's been provided for people here in this area."