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Deficit funding in health another broken promise

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman

10 June 2008

Deficit funding in health another broken promise

Labour needs to explain why hospitals around the country are spiralling into deficit even though the Government promised not to let that happen and has doubled spending on health, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

"There's a bow-wave of deficits flooding across the country's hospitals and it's time Labour confessed to the true state of hospital finances."

Mr Ryall's comments follow reports of a $24 million deficit at Wellington's Capital and Coast DHB - more than double what was expected. Last week, Hutt Valley DHB admitted to a possible $6 million - $9 million deficit after planning to break even.

Southland's deficit has jumped to more than $6 million. Mid Central's deficit is expected to be over $7 million - four times than the original estimate.

"National understands that even more hospitals will report bigger deficits in the next month.

"Buried in the fine print of last month's Budget is the revelation that nine of the country's DHBs are expecting to run up huge deficits in the next financial year: Auckland, Counties Manukau, Tairawhiti, Hawke's Bay, Whanganui, Capital and Coast, West Coast, Otago, and Southland.

"The Government must reveal what the DHBs are saying about their deficits, and what 'cost containment strategies' - as Dr Cullen calls them - are being put in place."

Mr Ryall says in Opposition, Helen Clark campaigned on the promise that 'the deficit funding of the public health sector has to stop ...we should fund a balanced budget for our public health services - not a deficit budget'.

"New Zealanders deserve to know the true state of our hospitals' finances.

"Under Labour, the money has doubled but the real waiting lists are getting longer. There're huge staff shortages in many key parts of the health service, and an army of bureaucrats armed with an inexhaustible supply of red tape."


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