Doctors 4, Labtests 0

By Jim McVeagh 04/11/2009

Latest update on the game of Auckland pathology football is Doctors 4, Labtests 0 as the DHB , supposedly playing for Labtests, scores an own goal. Last night, Counties Manukau DHB chairman, Professor Gregor Coster, said:

“They led us to believe they had a quality and safety system in place from the outset.

“It proved not to be the case. Frankly they lied to us.”

They lied? Does this man not understand that, in terms of multimillion dollar contracts of public money, “they lied to us” is not a viable excuse. Because what it actually means is “We did not pay due diligence in awarding the contract to a complete unknown“. What is being experienced now is the consequences of not understanding the level of risk the DHBs were embarking upon in awarding this contract to a single unestablished entity. It is also highly unlikely that Labtests “lied” in the sense of deliberately mislead. It is possible they were over-optimistic in their appraisals, in fact, it is more or less certain they were. But that is a long way from lying.

It is also certain that Labtests grossly underestimated the antipathy that both the doctors and DML felt towards them. So far in this game the doctors/DML have:

  1. The scalp of the previous Labtests CEO, Ulf Lindskog.
  2. The takeover of quality control by the DHB.
  3. The removal of 10% of the contract to DML.
  4. The DHBs now trying to make out that Labtests was somehow fraudulent in their bid for the contract.

I hope the DHBs have good lawyers because if I was running Labtests I would be planning legal action at this stage, since the DHB has now provided an excellent prima facie case for defamation.

Absurdly, this statement of the DHB has not bought them any sway with the doctors. Dr Tony Hay, of the Mt Eden Medical Centre, told the meeting the real intention of the doctors:

“I would have thought there were grounds to scrub the contract and go back to where we were.”

At this stage, I wonder if that is even possible, let alone desirable.


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