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Rigid approach to saving money in hospitals poses risks

Rigid approach to saving money in public hospitals poses risks; senior doctors raise critical questions that need to be answered

“Concerns about the one-size-fits-all approach being taken to national procurement for public hospitals should be a wake-up call for the Government,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. Mr Powell was responding to the concerns expressed publicly by Canterbury hospital specialists yesterday.

Canterbury’s senior doctors fear the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) will lose millions of dollars a year, jobs will go and patients will suffer under the cost-cutting measures being driven by the government’s agency, Health Benefits Limited (HBL).

HBL is rolling out programmes to save money in DHBs through finance, procurement and supply chains, and food, linen and laundry services – but senior doctors have raised serious concern that HBL’s methods of applying the changes will actually leave patients and health services worse off.

“The Government needs to listen to these concerns because they are not being raised lightly,” says Mr Powell. “Senior doctors and other health professionals are dealing directly with patients and understand the potential impact of the HBL changes on health services.”

“The current approach is too rigid and there is a real risk it will end up killing off existing local or regional initiatives which have proved effective in the interests of overall cost-savings. That means some high performing DHBs may end up penalised, in effect, while lower-performing DHBs stand to benefit from national savings, which would be an absurd situation.”

Mr Powell says public hospital specialists are already under pressure to save money, meet national health targets and shoulder greater workloads so it is imperative that any HBL savings are not at the expense of providing good quality health care.

“The Government needs to take a closer look at its national procurement programme to make sure it is not going to undermine health services or those DHBs which are performing better than others.”


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