Trust under investigation by health ministry

By Peter de Graaf

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A Far North health trust is being investigated by the Health Ministry following a public complaint to the Minister of Health.

National Health Board deputy national director Michael Hundleby said the audit of the Kaeo-based Whangaroa Health Services Trust was being carried out by the Health Ministry's audit and compliance team.

The audit was focusing on financial and governance issues and followed a complaint, understood to be from a member of the public, to Health Minister Tony Ryall, relating mainly to confusion over the trust deed.

Mr Hundleby said the audit process began in December last year and was expected to take a number of months to complete.

Trust chair Jannye Freeman said earlier the trust welcomed the audit and had nothing to hide.

The Whangaroa Health Services Trust is funded by the Northland District Health Board and runs a hospital and rest home at Kaeo as well as providing free GP visits. The Hokianga is the only other place in Northland with free primary health care.

The trust is also the subject of a Northland District Health Board review, but that is part of a wider review of all health board services in the region.

Kim Tito, general manager of planning, Maori, primary and population health, said the review was part of the health board's new Northland Health Services Plan.

The review was focused on making sure the health board's money was being spent in the right places and on the right things to achieve improved health outcomes, particularly for Maori, Mr Tito said.

It was an attempt to "future proof" local health services and funding in the face of an ageing population and increasing numbers of patients presenting with long-term conditions, especially type-2 diabetes.

The review did not cover governance issues and was in no way linked to the Health Ministry audit.

"Nothing substantive alters our confidence in the trust to deliver according to the contracts we have with them," Mr Tito said.

The NDHB review started earlier this month and was due to be completed in July. It would include stakeholder engagement and public consultation, he said.

- Northern Advocate

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