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Patients are paying the price of big deficits

Patients are paying the price of big deficits

Health Minister Annette King is oblivious to the problems district health boards are facing in getting their annual plans signed off because of their large deficits, says National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

“Today in Parliament Annette King said she was concerned that DHBs were slow in getting sign-off for their plans. It is the Government that is holding up the process.

“Today we have had the farcical situation of the Hawkes Bay District Health Board reporting it couldn’t get approval of its plan by Treasury because of its $10m deficit, and the Minister of Health preventing it from making any health cuts while expecting it to lower its deficit.

“The Minister expects boards to meet her definition of ‘financially sustainable’ when Treasury and Dr Cullen won’t approve their deficits, which have reached a combined record of $237m.

“While the Minister may have agreed to settle with Hawkes Bay DHB today, due to the public pressure she has come under, many boards have still not settled and are in an impossible situation.

“Patients are paying the price for the Minister’s demand for ‘efficiency gains’. She is kidding herself if she thinks boards will continue to operate without cutting services to reduce costs,” Dr Scott said.

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