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Whanganui DHB's money woes Labour's fault

Whanganui DHB's money woes Labour's fault

The status of the Whanganui District Health Board is under threat of being downgraded to intensive monitoring - the final stage before a Government-appointed commissioner is appointed to take over from the board, ACT Health spokesman Heather Roy revealed today.

"The board has indicated that it is likely to run a $2 million deficit, and has to achieve cuts and savings of $700,000 in the 2004/05 financial year," Mrs Roy said.

Confidential papers, obtained under the Official Information Act, show the DHB would have to `introduce unacceptable consequences in terms of reductions in services, service quality or staffing' to break even.

"Annette King announced in the May 2004 Budget that the Whanganui DHB would receive a $6.3 million - 4.9 percent - increase in operational funding for the current year.

"The reality, however, is quite different. Once funding for Disability Services (Aged Care) - not previously the DHB's responsibility - was deducted, and increased administrative costs and inflation have been included, the DHB's operational funding has dropped by -$2.1 million or -1.8 percent.

"The Whanganui DHB is feeling the pinch, with patients faced with longer waiting lists and cuts to current services. It's not alone. Of the 21 DHBs around New Zealand, 14 have actual inflation adjusted increases of less than two percent. Even worse, six - including Whanganui - had a funding decrease.

"Labour has trumpeted large injections of funding to DHBs, but analysis shows this is massively exaggerated, with much going on increased bureaucracy. It's wrong for the Government to blame the Whanganui DHB and others for the serious funding problems they are facing.

"The responsibility falls squarely at the feet of Annette King and Helen Clark for their deception over funding. Their expectations of the board breaking even, without compromising health services, is totally unrealistic.

"Annette King has exposed her inability to grasp the financial realties of her portfolio. Her constant denials of reduced funding have been shown for what they really are: deception, bluff and bluster," Mrs Roy said.

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