19 Jun 2014

Health programme under attack

2:19 pm on 19 June 2014

The chief financial officers of district health boards have written a group letter to express what they call their severely diminished confidence in one of the Government's flagship health programme.

Tony Ryall says Might River Power will be the first company up for sale.

Health Minister Tony Ryall. Photo: RNZ

The letter was sent anonymously to Labour's health spokesperson Annette King about one of the Health Benefits programmes.

The Crown company Health Benefits was formed in 2010 to find $700 million dollars of savings at the country's health boards over five years to reinvest in front-line health services.

The letter, addressed to the DHB chief executives group, said the chief financial officers were profoundly concerned at the mounting risks to the delivery of health services, as savings were made.

Health Minister Tony Ryall brushed off the concerns. He said the board of HBL would respond to the letter.

"This is nothing unusual. When you are making these sorts of changes, people do want to express their views. And when there is ever change, people worry about it. And, the point that I think the CFO's are making is that, and as they indicated in their last paragraph, they want to work constructively with HBL to deal with these issues" he said.

But Annette King said there had been a lack of transparency with the programme, and the letter was evidence it was floundering.

She said it was significant that the financial officers were compelled to write the letter. She said the programme has lacked transparency and there have been cost overruns, and one of her biggest concerns was the impact on the delivery of health services, because that meant patients.

Read the letter sent to Annette King