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DHBs Labouring Under Huge Deficits

DHBs Labouring Under Huge Deficits

The fact that combined District Health Boards ran a $56 million deficit for the final quarter of the 2002-03 year highlights Health Minister Annette King's inability to manage her portfolio, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that, over the final three months of the 2002-03 financial year, DHBs ran a combined deficit of $56 million - which, if annualised, would present a $224 million deficit," Mrs Roy said.

"The 2002-03 deficit has exploded to over $180 million, making a nonsense of the Minister's earlier claims of a drastically reduced deficit for this period. Her rhetoric, that deficits will drop to $88 million in 2003-04 are either a demonstration that she has no grasp of the deficit crisis - or an indication that savage cuts will have to be made to save more than $100 million.

"This new information shows that DHB deficits are still out of control - despite the Minister's directive that boards break even by the end of the 2004-05 financial year. The fact that health board funding is still in crisis makes a mockery of Ms King's proposed `reining in' of DHB spending.

"These Parliamentary Questions also show erratic monthly performances by many DHBs. Counties-Manukau DHB - despite having planned a $289,000 surplus for June - ran an actual deficit of $11 million for the month. This is a huge discrepancy, and no board can be reasonably expected to plan effectively with such a huge swing into the red.

"Ms King, however, cannot ignore these deficits. She must acknowledge the crisis she has instigated, before Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen steps in and takes control for her - which, judging from her past performance, may not actually be a bad thing," Mrs Roy said.

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