Health Minister hiding state of DHB finances
Michael Woodhouse - Health
18 January 2019
The refusal of the Minister of Health, David Clark, to publish the financial performance of DHBs is a cynical attempt at masking their precarious financial situation, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.
“Reports on the financial performance of DHBs are usually published regularly on the Ministry of Health website, however, in the seven months of this financial year, not a single report on a single month has been published,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“Despite claiming to be the most open and transparent Government, it refuses to release the reports that will show that under the Minister’s watch the DHB books have blown out.
“I have heard reports that the Minister is expecting DHBs to cut costs and fund significant portions of the pay settlements without extra funding. Sources within DHBs have also indicated to me that the financial situation is dire, with DHBs struggling to meet the financial targets that the Minister refuses to sign off let alone the extra costs on top.
“When I asked the Minister why the reports had not been published he said it was because the DHB annual plans had not been finalised.
“This is a ridiculous response – the Minister himself is responsible for approving the annual plans. He is effectively using his failure to perform one role as the reason for his failure to perform another role.
“In the last full year of the National-led Government (2016/17) the combined deficits were $119 million. Last year (2017/18) the deficit blew out to $240 million, with the lion’s share of the deficit being recorded on the Labour-led Government’s watch.
“The Minister informed me prior to Christmas that he expected a report on financial performance to 31 October which would be published on the Ministry website in early 2019, but this hasn’t happened. He needs to be honest with taxpayers about what the state of DHB finances really are.”