1 Dec 2017

DHBs' plans left waiting after being 'neglected'

From Checkpoint, 5:18 pm on 1 December 2017

Health Minister David Clark says the combined budget blow out at the country's 20 district health boards is likely to top $150 million dollars - triple what was projected six months ago.

Due to mistakes by the Health Ministry and an unfortunate lack of oversight by the previous Health Minister, DHBs didn't have finalised budgets until two weeks before the financial year began, he said. 

He said when the new government took power, not a single DHB had its annual plan signed off.

"I find that neglectful, it sadly aligns with the priority the previous government placed on health, but it also points to the incredible difficulty in relationships that was evident with the government previously."

It was hard to imagine that happening in the private sector, he said. 

"We're burning the midnight oil to get this work through, to make sure next year the planning processes are better and that we can get on with making sure funding is going into the health sector, as we promised in our election commitments so we can make sure New Zealanders get the services they expect."

He said the last official figure in May was $47.5 million but he was now expecting deficits "north of $150 million".

"I'm four weeks into the job but I've made it clear already that I have very high expectations of the DHB chairs in terms of their performance and commitment to the new government's goals and aspirations in the health sector," he said.