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No Reason For SDHB To Withhold Hospice Funding

13 December 2005

No Reason For SDHB To Withhold Hospice Funding

Despite questions to the Health Minister by Invercargill MP Eric Roy, bureaucratic buck-passing by the Southland District Health Board (SDHB) is holding back funding earmarked for Hospice Southland by former Health Minister Annette King.

Mr Roy said $155,363 had been earmarked by Annette King in May 2005 as part of a $5.9 million package to District Health Boards as top-up funding for hospice essential services.

“Despite several meetings and clarification from the Ministry of Health, the SDHB has yet to pass any of this money to Hospice Southland. I understand the DHB has offered partial release of the funding, but wants to keep some to explore their own initiatives – completely against the intent of the funding package,” Mr Roy said.

“When Annette King announced this funding in June 2005, she made it clear the funding was so DHBs could fully fund essential hospice services. There is a separate $1.8 million fund announced at the same time for other palliative care services which the SDHB may be able to access for their ‘new initiatives’, but they cannot unilaterally decide to take away any of the $155,363 allocated to the hospice.”

Mr Roy said the SDHB was going against the Minister’s decision, which was made after a report from the Hospice Funding Working Party in April.

“The Minister’s decision is clear, both in the report she signed off and in her subsequent press release in July. The money is to address the funding shortfall for hospices,” Mr Roy said.

“Hospice Southland has attempted several times to negotiate receipt of the funding, but has been stonewalled by the SDHB. I have made enquiries of the new Minister of Health Pete Hodgson, but there has still been no action.”

Mr Roy said he understood other hospices around the country had received their funding soon after the Minister’s announcement in July.

“The SDHB has to hand over this funding. There is no ‘grey area’, no clarification is required,” he said.

“This funding will not completely offset the hospice’s shortfall, but it will go some way to assisting with the care of those patients and their families who require the unique service the hospice offers,” Mr Roy said.

“The SDHB needs to stop sidestepping responsibility and hand over this funding now. We shouldn’t need the Ministry of Health to do any further clarification – it’s a clear Ministerial decision.”

TIMELINE: April 14 2005: The Hospice Funding Working Party Report (attached to this press release) is given to Health Minister Annette King recommending that $5 million be allocated from the Cancer Control Strategy to address a funding shortfall for hospices. (Hospice NZ had asked for $10.527 million after disagreeing with the methodology used to arrive at this figure).

May 9 2005: Annette King changes the recommendation to $5.9 million and signs off the report.

July 1 2005: Annette King sends out a press release announcing the funding and the regional breakdown. Hospice Southland is allocated $155,363. See http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.aspx?DocumentID=23553

December 2005: Southland DHB offers only partial release of funding.


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