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DHBs' $100m budget blow-out King's fault

DHBs' $100m budget blow-out King's fault

The latest Treasury budget update has revealed what Health Minister Annette King has tried to hide for the past six months: Combined District Health Board deficits are blowing out to $100 million for the 2004/05 financial year, ACT Health spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"In 2000/01 Ms King trumpeted a so-called new three-year injection that would eliminate DHB deficits in three years. She boldly claimed and, in fact, demanded that boards eliminate their deficits in this time," Mrs Roy said.

"Last year the DHBs' deficits totalled $48.6 million, but when she refused to answer my questions on the estimates for this year, it was clear the boards' deficits were deteriorating, and deteriorating seriously.

Buried deep in the December budget update is the following: `District Annual Plans submitted by District Health Boards indicate a combined deficit in the order of $100 million with significant deficits continuing through outyears'.

"Not only has Ms King overseen a blow-out from net $48 million last year to $100 million this year, but deficits are forecast to remain `significant', in other words, over $100 million in future years.

"The source of the problem is clear: Annette King is wasting money on bureaucracy, administration and race-based funding. She claimed to have provided $547 million more for DHBs' operating costs this year, but after deducting additional administration and inflation, the increase is only $146 million. This has resulted in 14 of the 21 DHBs receiving a funding increase of less than two percent, and seven of them with effective cuts.

"Annette King's bluff and bluster style is well known, and is simply a way for her to disguise her inability to come to grips with the financial aspects of Vote Health. Helen Clark has no other option but to cut her loose," Mrs Roy said.

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