Pressure on DHBs as scalpel taken to funding

Health boards across the country are looking to cut back on services as they buckle under pressure from the Government to keep costs down, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“Previously withheld information received from the Minister of Health shows DHBs are not receiving enough funding to cope with growth pressures and an aging population.

“It reveals district health boards face a funding shortfall of $153 million this financial year, with the three Auckland DHBs –  Waitemata, Counties Manukau and Auckland DHBs –looking at cost pressures of $39m, $30m and $21m.

“The result of this is tens of thousands of people not being able to get appointments with specialists, others having to wait months, if not years, for surgery and still others having home help hours cut because there’s no money to pay carers.

“Just last week I had a letter from a grandmother whose four-year-old granddaughter doesn’t meet the criteria for surgery despite the fact a specialist says she needs her tonsils removed and grommets fitted in her ears to improve her hearing and speech.

“She was told by the specialist they are required to turn down a certain number of referrals each year.

“All of this comes on the back of a $1.7 billion shortfall in health spending over six years and puts paid to the sugar coated fabrications Health Minister Jonathan Coleman keeps rolling out.

“The situation our DHBs now find themselves in is wholly of the Government’s making - the sector has been – and continues to be – chronically underfunded.

 “Ultimately, of course, it is New Zealanders who suffer.

“Dr Coleman has already signalled there will need to be even more saved in ‘efficiencies’ over the next few years.

“If he was any sort of Health Minister he would be eyeballing his Cabinet colleagues and arguing for more funding, not whacking DHBs with a big stick,” Annette King says.