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Hospital Deficit Continues To Climb

The combined deficit for the country's 21 district health boards has continued to climb over the past three months, National Health Spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

Figures compiled by Mr Sowry from district health board papers and latest reports show the combined deficit to the end of February 2002 was $247 million. "This is an increase of $6 million since the end of November last year," Mr Sowry said.

District health boards which recorded higher deficits in the past three months include: Auckland up $1m, Waitemata up $1.7m, Canterbury up $2m, Otago up $1.2m.

"The deficit is now $170 million greater than Annette King said it would be. Last year she claimed the deficit would be $80 million," Mr Sowry said.

"I am concerned that this rising deficit will mean any extra funding to health in December's funding announcement will be used towards deficits rather than providing better health services.

"Hospitals around the country are straining to provide services within budget, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that as the deficit continues to rise the future of many public health services will come under increasing pressure.

"New Zealanders were told by this Government they would get better health services if they paid more taxes, but the Government hasn't stumped up on its part of the deal.

"Annette King's credibility is blown because she never seems to know what the boards' deficits are," Mr Sowry said.


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