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Govt Breaks Promise On Surgery Waits

District Health Boards are at risk of needing millions of dollars in the next year because they can't budget for unforeseen health risks under the health system restructured last year, National's Health spokesperson Roger Sowry says.

Mr Sowry today released a review of risks associated with health funding responsibility being transferred from the Ministry of Health to District Health Boards.

The Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu report says the Government plans to can its Budget promise of $74 million a year over four years for elective surgery and that boards are at a high financial risk because they can't tag or carry over funds.

"Cutting elective surgery funding is an amazing turn-around when Annette King pledged to reduce these surgery waiting times, following the sustainable funding path for elective surgery set by National. She promised the buck would stop with her in health, and the bucks certainly are stopping not with but from her.

"Annette King has been a bull in a china shop for health. She's restructured at great and unnecessary expense and is running health boards into huge deficits that will mean inevitable closures and cut backs. This report confirms her structure is flawed because it misses out vital pieces of the health funding pie.

The report estimates the national fiscal risk of boards is between $85 million and $108 million for the 2001-02 financial year, as identified by the HFA.

"The 21 DHBs are going to have to set up risk management funds because they can't set aside money for risks or carry forward unused funds, all at a time when they are charging into big deficits due to the Government's mismanagement.

"Under the previous system risks could be funded through the HFA because it could move funds around the country according to need. Now the Ministry of Health is hamstrung by legislation and boards have little say on required funding.

"The Minister has got to explain how she can live up to her promise of reducing elective surgery waiting times and what the Government is doing to ease the fiscal risk to DHBs," Mr Sowry said.


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