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Health board deficit soars to $241 million

Roger Sowry National Health Spokesperson

5 December 2001

Health board deficit soars to $241 million

Health Minister Annette King is continuing to ignore a funding crisis in health while the combined health board deficit has increased by $27 million to $241.5 million in just four months, National's Health spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

Mr Sowry revealed today that the projected deficit for the country's 21 district health boards had increased from $214.26 million to $241.5 million for the 2001-02 financial year, since National last collated the statistics in August.

"That's a rate of $1.7 million a week, while hospitals close as striking health workers demand the better pay they were promised by Labour, operations are delayed and cancelled, and radiation patients wait longer and longer or go to Australia for treatment. "Last week the Ministry of Health told the Health Select Committee it didn't know what the total projected deficit would be.

"The Ministry is clearly not doing its job. It simply isn't credible for it to say it doesn't have projected deficits when it has been receiving draft annual plans which outline the financial projections from all DHBs. Is this why Annette King has no idea how serious the funding situation is? "The $241.5 million deficit will keeping going up - while the Government pours money into Jim's Bank and the Super Fund. A climbing deficit means more disruption to services, more operations cancelled, more strikes and continuing low morale among health workers.

"Annette King should realise the deficit won't go away if she hides her head in the sand. She's refusing to front up to the health problems in the media - in 1999 the Minister said the buck would stop with her in health. The bucks have definitely stopped and she is accountable," Mr Sowry said.

Ends

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