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Minister Must Be Realistic

Minister Must Be Realistic

District Health Boards are in only marginally better shape now, than they were this time last year, with a combined deficit that looks set to reach $192 million by the end of this month, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"In response to questions at Health Select Committee, Ms King confirmed that the DHBs combined deficit looks set to reach $192 million for the year ending June 30, 2002," Mrs Roy said.

"Over the past year, the Minister has repeatedly instructed DHBs to live within their means. Meanwhile, she devolves more and more responsibility to them and, at the same time, sends a strong message that they must not cut services.

"Ms King has repeatedly announced her big package of funding - a new $400 million cash injection to DHBs. This was originally announced in December 2001 - at which time, the Health Ministry was confident that the total deficit for the 2002-03 year would be $79 million.

"The Minister also indicated today that there would be no reprieve for DHBs. Despite multiple problems in the health system - such as Auckland's mental health services crisis, and patients being removed from waiting lists without treatment - the Minister told the committee that there are further efficiencies to be made in our hospitals.

"When asked whether it would be quality of care, or quantity, that would have to `give' to meet her required savings, the Minister indicated that no service cuts would be acceptable. The Minister must be realistic about the impossible position she is placing DHBs in," Mrs Roy said.

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