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Funding Deficits Hit Health Services

MEDIA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,
THURSDAY 14 AUGUST 2003

Funding Deficits Hit Health Services

“District health board deficits inevitably hit health services,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. Mr Powell was commenting on the unexpected $1.3 million deficit of the Nelson Marlborough DHB.

“Deficits force district health boards to consider cutting staff costs, always the largest item of their expenditure because health is inevitably labour intensive. But when you cut staffing levels you seriously risk cutting the quality and range of patient services.”

“Deficits also force district health boards to delay the maintenance of assets, facilities and equipment. Again delayed maintenance and upgrading can have an indirect effect on patient services.”

“The Nelson Marlborough DHB also reports a blow-out on spending on outsourced services (often a cute alternative wording for privatisation). This is a useful reminder that outsourcing or privatisation is not the supposed cheap option that they might initially think.”

“The government believes that the health system is adequately funded and that deficits will not affect patient services. Not to put a fine point on it, the government is wrong,” concluded Mr Powell.

Ian Powell
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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