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Financial Deficits Leg-Iron For Health System

“Financial Deficits Leg-Iron For Health System”

“Continuing high district health board deficits are a leg-iron weighing down the health system and frustrating the effectiveness of senior doctors,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.

Mr Powell was responding to the announcement that the national DHB deficit for the year ended 30 June 2003 was $185 million.

“It is inevitable and unavoidable that high deficits affect patient health services. Deficits limit the ability of district health boards to maintain and replace equipment, provide necessary resources, and recruit health professionals in a competitive job market.”

“High financial deficits have been an almost permanent feature of the public health system since the early 1990s. There was a brief respite in the late 1990s when the then government did a ‘deficit switch’. But, while this respite was useful, it also disguised the extent of under-funding.”

“Deficits are a crude indicator of the extent to which district health boards are under-funded,” concluded Mr Powell.

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