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Health Cabinet Papers Released

Health Minister Annette King today released three more Cabinet papers on a range of issues relating to how District Health Boards will operate, saying she was pleased with progress toward the 2001 start-up date.

"The latest decisions cover the division of roles between DHBs and the Ministry of Health, specific sanctions which can be applied for lack of performance, and the role of the Minister of Finance in relation to the boards," Mrs King said.

"The focus is sharpening all the time. An increasingly clear picture is becoming apparent of how the boards will work to improve the health of New Zealanders.

"We are looking at a managed process of devolution. Initially the Ministry of Health will retain some roles and functions that will be devolved over time, while other roles and functions may well remain with the Ministry indefinitely. Further work is being done to draw up criteria for devolution of functions."

Mrs King said the prospect of greater autonomy would clearly be an incentive for good performance. "However, if the converse becomes apparent, and some boards do not perform well initially, we will also have the ability to intervene. The options for intervention will be set out in law.

"Given the large amount of Government money for which boards could be responsible, we have also considered very carefully the role of the Minister of Finance. Initially both the Health and Finance Ministers will have oversight of financial aspects of board performance, with both signing off annual plans, strategic plans and statements of intent," she said.

"Over time that responsibility will devolve solely to the Minister of Health, with the Minister of Finance's role related only to specific risks."

ends

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