Budget pressures as health targets met

By Tessa Johnstone

Wairarapa DHB is exceeding all but one of the six Government-set health targets - but the work may be coming at a cost.

Finance and information general manager Eric Sinclair told Wairarapa DHB in a September meeting that pressure to meet health targets was impacting on the budget.

Wairarapa DHB chief executive Tracey Adamson said there was a brief spike in costs of meeting the targets in August, when a larger than usual number of patients needed eye operations and an sick anesthetist had to be replaced for a period by more expensive locums.

Ms Adamson said while balancing costs with demand was always a challenge, this quarter's health target results show Wairarapa DHB is exceeding targets and is on budget.

"These are financially constrained times, but the Government is continuing to invest in health with additional funding year on year but demand is going up at the same time."

Asked if the health targets were focussing money in the right areas, Ms Adamson said people who needed surgery and other treatment were getting it, but there were always trade-offs.

"There's no right answer to that, we make judgment calls on a week-by-week basis sometimes."

Wairarapa DHB is one of a number of DHBs across the country that have set a financial goal of breaking even in the 2013/14 financial year - last year Wairarapa reported a $4.35 million deficit.

For the first quarter of 2012/13, Wairarapa DHB exceeded the health targets of providing more access to elective surgeries, increased immunisation for under-2s, providing shorter waits for cancer treatment and shorter stays in emergency departments, and providing better support for hospital patients to stop smoking.

The sixth target, to have 75 per cent of eligible people checked for cardiovascular risk and diabetes, has not been met by any DHB - Wairarapa has achieved 64 per cent.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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