A-G confirms HBL was a shambles

An agency set up by the Government to “save” money across the health sector has been slammed by the Auditor-General for wasting millions of dollars, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

The report, instigated by Labour, shows that while Health Benefits Limited was supposed to save $700 million, it only managed to make savings of $71 million.

“However it forked out more than that - $79 million – on consultants and contractors in just five years.

“The report also highlights the fact there was no project manager keeping an eye on cost blow-outs, expenses were not budgeted for, there was little consultation with DHBs and there was no buy-in from clinicians.

“The budget for a shared banking and procurement (FPSC) programme, originally due to be in place by the end of last year but which won’t now be implemented until 2018, has risen from $87.9 million to $120 million.

“If that wasn’t bad enough DHBs have had to pay for business cases they didn’t end up implementing. That meant them making efficiencies elsewhere in order to keep to their annual budgets – it was money that should have been going into health services.

“The Government has underfunded health in four out of the last six budgets, because it was relying on HBL to do the job it was supposed to do. Instead it’s become a burden on our district health boards and an albatross around the neck of the health system.

“This was the legacy project of former Health Minister Tony Ryall. It was supposed to be the gold standard in delivering cost reductions.  It has turned out to be an obscene waste of taxpayer money.

“I am pleased the Auditor-general undertook this investigation. Hopefully it will mean more precious health dollars will not be wasted on vanity projects and empire building by future Health Ministers,” Annette King says.