New Zealand’s district health boards have made ‘efficiencies’ of more than $672 million over the past five years at the expense of everything from new drugs to elective surgery, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.
“This is a body blow for middle New Zealand with these self-imposed cuts irrevocably damaging the public health system we were once all proud of.
“The efficiencies -- outlined in an answer from the Minister -- have been forced on the DHBs as a result of $1.7 billion dollars of Government cuts to the Health budget.
“It’s just seven months into the financial year and already the DHBs are struggling to make the further cuts the Minister has demanded.
“The increasingly out of touch Jonathan Coleman has to explain what these efficiencies have actually achieved now that DHBs are having to understaff hospitals.
“A cap in staff budgets has meant 697 full-time staff positions have not been filled even though more patients are turning up at our hospitals.
“Auckland’s DHB has had to make $143.57 million of ‘efficiencies’ since 2011/12 while Wellington’s Capital & Coast has had to make $116.67 million of savings.
“The other tragedy is that these ‘efficiencies’ have also led to the medicines budget being practically frozen over the past three years, denying Kiwis the life-saving drugs that they need,” says Annette King.