24 Aug 2017

Coleman reveals $117m national DHB deficit

8:47 pm on 24 August 2017

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has admitted district health boards face a combined deficit of $117 million for the year, higher than the under-$100m that had been expected.

jonathan coleman

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman Photo: RNZ

On 11 August, Dr Coleman said on Checkpoint that DHBs' forecast combined deficits were less than $100m.

He said deficits were increasing, but were nowhere near the $150m posted in 2008.

The May audited report on combined DHB finances forecast a $99m deficit for the year-end result.

"We've had the updated figures," he told Checkpoint this evening.

"We've got deficits ... of $117m across the district health boards."

But Dr Coleman said the bottom line was none of the DHBs were going to run out of cash.

The minister's admission comes as Northland DHB chief executive Nick Chamberlain said he was refusing to provide the board's annual plan unless it got more funding.

There have also been complaints of funding problems at Canterbury DHB, which has been ordered by the ministry to cut its deficit from $54m to $17m, and Southern DHB, which had serious problems in its urology department.

Dr Coleman reaffirmed that services would not be affected, and said no DHB would "run out of cash".

"Clinical services will not suffer - there is no way services will be cut, they will only continue to increase - and that's the key point.

"These are balance sheet discussions but actually services are improving and increasing in every DHB including Northland."

He said Waikato DHB had come back from a deficit of $32m.

"They have actually increased their first specialist assessments, so they're doing 13,000 more a year than they were nine years ago, they're doing 300 more orthopaedic operations per year and they've increased their electives surgery by 6500 more while reversing a deficit."

This year the Waikato DHB is going to be in surplus.

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