9 Jun 2015

Southern DHB investigation 'urgently needed'

9:15 pm on 9 June 2015

An in-depth investigation into the Southern District Health Board's problems is urgently needed, Labour's health spokesperson Annette King says..

Dunedin Hospital.

Dunedin Hospital. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman has told board members they may be replaced by a commissioner, as he lacked faith in their ability to resolve the DHB's financial problems.

Its forecast deficit skyrocketed to about $27 million this year and it could grow to as high as $42 million next year.

Ms King said there was something inherently wrong at the Southern DHB and its funding formula needed to be urgently reviewed.

She said the problems began when it was formed during the merger of the Otago and Southland DHBs five years ago.

"There was very little done to work out how it would work for the people of that region.

"The population-based funding formula needs to be reviewed to see if a large geographic region that has an ageing population and particular issues including high levels of bowel cancer has the right funding formula for them."

Ms King said an independent team of specialists needed to review the DHB's financial position and service delivery, rather than one commissioner.

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull said replacing the Southern DHB with a commissioner would be a loss of democracy.

But he said it should be proven whether accusations that the board was incompetent were correct, or whether there were other issues the Government needed to resolve.