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National offer conditional support for DHB appointment

National is offering cautious support for the Government’s intention to replace the Waikato District Health Board (DHB) with a commissioner, but on the condition David Clark commits to returning the board to the normal democratic process as soon as possible, National’s Health Spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“The Waikato DHB has had serious issues in recent times such as unjustified spending from its previous Chief Executive, struggles to find a replacement, and a forecast deficit of $56m.

“Against that backdrop the clinical staff and outgoing acting CEO Derek Wright have worked extremely hard to maintain clinical and financial viability, and blame should not be levelled at those hard-working staff.

“While these issues are behind the Government’s decision, Dr Clark has had ample time to address issues and deliver on his pledge to rein in the deficits of our DHBs, but instead we’ve seen them sink further into a sea of red ink.

“With combined debt likely to reach $500 million by year’s end, it’s clear that DHBs are poorly served by a Minister and Government that promised much and delivered little and we are starting to see the effect this is having.

“The board members of many other DHBs where the books have become worse off over the past 18 months will be looking over their shoulders to ensure they’re not next on the scrap heap to be replaced by a commissioner.

“The Minister’s priority now needs to be working hard to ensure the Waikato DHB’s status can be returned as soon as possible.”

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