New Zealand Labour Party

Screws put on health as budgets blow out

More than half the country’s health boards have blown out their budgets just months into the new financial year, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“A report to Jonathan Coleman on the financial performance of our district health boards shows that in just the second month of the 2015/16 financial year 13 are in the red to the tune of $8.4 million. 

“Not only that but four DHBs – Lakes, Capital and Coast, Hutt Valley and MidCentral -   are also under closer financial scrutiny, while a financial review of Tairawhiti is about to begin.

“This follows a review of Canterbury DHB by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

“The strife they are in is not about their own poor management, but is a consequence of the Government not funding them to keep up with inflation and population growth pressures.

“An Infometrics report has confirmed Health has been underfunded by $1.7 billion over the last six years.

“No health board wants to compromise patient care, but if budgets are being screwed down then something’s got to give. Figures provided by Mr Coleman’s office show a shortfall of some $152 million this year.  

“We know there’s increasing numbers of people being turned down for specialist treatment, and we know emergency departments aren’t coping with rising numbers of people turning up with mental health issues.

“Staff are being told that sticking to budgets and targets is more important than patient safety and quality care.

“For a country that prides itself on a health system that puts those last two things at the top of the priority list that is disgraceful,” Annette King says.