8 Mar 2012

Health boards save $55m

9:03 am on 8 March 2012

District health boards saved $55 million last year, mainly by pooling their buying power for the wide range of items used by hospitals.

The figures have been released by Health Benefits Limited (HBL) which was set up by the Government a year and a half ago to find $700 million of savings in DHBs that would be used for front line health services.

The boards had planned to save $30 million last year but reached the higher figure.

Health Benefits Limited chief executive Nigel Wilkinson says joint purchasing of items such as bandages, pumps, beds, ultrasounds, IV bags and needles, as well as fuel contracts, provided the major savings.

The agency says shared banking arrangements for all 20 district health boards is the next step, at an estimated saving of $4 million a year. Mr Wilkinson is not saying which bank will provide the service.

The senior doctors' union says it is working well with the company but believes complex decisions are being made too quickly.