4 Jun 2014

DHB under fire over budget blow-out

6:56 pm on 4 June 2014

Wellington's deficit-plagued district health board says it is determined to get on top of a $3 million budget blow-out.

The Capital and Coast DHB came under fire on Wednesday over cost-saving measures, including reducing unnecessary lab tests for patients.

The board was looking at ending the financial year in June $6 million in the red, but says that has now grown by $3 million.

It said there was reduced income from other hospitals sending fewer patients for treatment at the regional hospital.

The DHB is urging staff to make savings where possible, including reducing unnecessary radiology and lab tests where it would be safe for patients.

The junior doctors' union said that is a decision for doctors and it is a knee-jerk reaction.

Senior clinician Shawn Sturland believes inappropriate testing should be reduced - regardless of the budget.

"What may surprise people is that testing requests that go ahead and are duplicated, for example, through just poor communication or misunderstanding - say one service requesting a test and then handing over the patient, and then that same testing requested immediately as the most appropriate test again.

"There's no doubt that the test is appropriate - it's just that it's been requested twice."