Lab bat­tle set for an­other round

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

The le­gal bat­tle over Auck­land’s $560 mil­lion lab con­tract was des­tined to end in an ap­peal to the Supreme Court, says Labtest’s Aus­tralian own­ers Health­scope.

Di­ag­nos­tic Med­lab, the cur­rent providers of lab test­ing, will seek leave from the coun­try’s high­est court to over­turn last week’s Court of Ap­peal de­ci­sion that handed back the con­tract to ri­vals Labtest. The Court of Ap­peal de­ci­sion nul­li­fied a High Court re­view that last year found for­mer Auck­land District Health Board mem­ber Tony Bierre was in­ap­pro­pri­ately in­volved with Labtest.

Labtest was awarded the con­tract in 2006.

“We wish we didn’t have to go there,” says Di­ag­nos­tic Med­lab chief ex­ec­u­tive Arthur Mor­ris.

But Health­scope may have gone to the Supreme Court them­selves if the lat­est de­ci­sion hadn’t gone their way.

“We’ve in­vested an enor­mous amount of money in New Zealand and we weren’t go­ing to walk away,” Health­scope di­rec­tor of strat­egy and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment Joe Czyzewski says.

Mr Mor­ris, whose com­pany is run by Aus­tralian-based Sonic Health­care, says a num­ber of test­ing cen­tres will face the axe no mat­ter who gets the con­tract.

His main fear if the Supreme Court re­fuses to hear their case is that Labtest will re­duce the num­ber of staff in­volved in sam­ple col­lec­tion.

“With half the rooms and staff num­bers they will have sig­nif­i­cant dif­fi­culty in ser­vic­ing the pop­u­la­tion.”

But Mr Czyzewski says it’s dif­fi­cult to know how many staff they’ll need be­cause it’s un­clear how many peo­ple Di­ag­nos­tic Med­lab em­ploy.

He says they will start the process of set­ting up test­ing fa­cil­i­ties de­spite the threat of an ap­peal.

“There’s not much we can do about that. We’re keen to get up and run­ning.”

Di­ag­nos­tic Med­lab will con­tinue to pro­vide ser­vices un­til Labtest takes over or while the ap­peal process is be­ing heard.

Re­gional health boards spokesman Pat Sned­den says they are pleased the Court of Ap­peal clar­i­fied the pro­cesses they used to de­cide who got the con­tract.

“They were clear about the fact that Dr Bierre did have a con­flict, but it was man­aged ap­pro­pri­ately by the DHB. The court agreed we were di­rect and up-front.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.