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DHB Deficit Control is 'Mission Impossible'

DHB Deficit Control is 'Mission Impossible'

Heather Roy Monday, 27 February 2006

Press Releases - Health

Labour's projections for the combined District Health Board (DHB) deficit have been blown out of the water with the announcement that the six-month deficit to December 2005 was $26.5 million, ACT Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"In 2002, then Health Minister Annette King said she was aiming at a deficit 'close to zero' within three years. By June 2005 she had changed her tune saying that she and Michael Cullen had agreed to a sector deficit of $13.4 million for 2005/06.

"Meanwhile the 2005 December Economic and Fiscal Update (DEFU) predicted the deficit for the whole 2005/2006 year at around $80 million.

"Statistics New Zealand announced last week that the half year combined DHB deficit was $26.5 million - way above zero and $13.4 million. The $80 million figure is much more likely to be correct, with the Nursing MECA pay rise biting hard into DHB budgets," said Mrs Roy.

"Labour's changes to the Holidays Act and asset testing are also going to hit DHBs hard. Inadequate reimbursement, extra costs and the instruction not to cut any services leave DHBs between a rock and a hard place.

"The Ministry of Health says 'DHBs are generally managing their financial performances well'. Treasury says current funding tracks are unsustainable. Health Minister Pete Hodgson - who has inherited a lemon - seems to be hiding from any comment at all.

"Health is too important to face such uncertainty. New Zealanders deserve better," concluded Mrs Roy.

ENDS

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