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Health Minister Must Butt Out


Health Minister Must Butt Out

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today accused Health Minister Annette King of imposing unrealistic expectations on District Health Boards, after new information revealed that Capital and Coast DHB's budget blowout was completely unexpected.

"Reports today show that Capital and Coast is already $1.6 million over budget just two months into the financial year - yet answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that its annual plan has forecast breaking even every month," Mrs Roy said.

"The reason for this optimistic forecast is that the Minister has ordered DHBs to achieve `break even' by the end of the 2004/05 financial year, but has added the proviso that no services will be cut.

"The Minister has always devolved responsibility for almost all services to the Boards. She then stipulates how and where money is spent - leaving DHBs without the power to administer their own funds and make the savings she demands.

"Further efficiencies cannot be made until Boards are allowed more flexibility to provide for their communities in the most appropriate way, and I predict that the combined deficits for DHBs throughout the country - currently forecast at $89 million - will be no improvement on last year's deficit blowout of $180 million.

"If Ms King were prepared to butt out - allowing Boards get on with treating patients and managing their own affairs - we might see some progress. If we truly want to see an efficient, effective health system, we need less central control, more regional responsibility," Mrs Roy said.

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