Health board 'budget blowout' rejected

By Jordan Bond

1 comment

Whanganui District Health Board ran slightly over budget in the 2015/16 financial year, as the country's 20 DHBs combined for a $54 million shortfall.

Whanganui DHB had a deficit of $567,000 in the 2015/16 financial year, or 0.24 per cent of its $236m budget.

Yesterday Labour Party health spokeswoman Annette King announced a nationwide DHB "big budget blowout" of $54 million.

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said the total deficit Ms King announced was less than 1 per cent of health spending.

Whanganui MP Chester Borrows said the Whanganui and nationwide deficits were not as serious as Ms King had made them out to be.

"We're doing a great job in health. We're spending more than we ever have," Mr Borrows said.

"Although we have more older people and more sick people than some other areas... health issues are reported far less than they were ten years ago. We're funded adequately for achieving our health needs."

WDHB received an additional $6m in funding for the 2016/17 year.

WDHB general manager strategic and corporate Brian Walden said the deficit was due to unexpected demand growth.

"[The deficit] is mostly driven by additional aged care support services, reflective of growing numbers requiring support. Also patients sent to other DHBs for services were higher than expected."

Mr Walden said WDHB did not achieve its planned savings of $2.6m in the 2015/16 financial year, but did not provide the final savings figure. WDHB will target $150,000 in savings in 2016/17.

"There are always savings that can be generated. Locally we are currently undertaking an energy efficiency project that will reduce energy consumption by 21 per cent per annum or $141,000."

Southern DHB, which is under the control of commissioners after Dr Coleman sacked the board, ran the largest deficit at $35m - a significant portion of the $54m total.

Capital and Coast DHB ran $13.4 million over its budget.

Auckland, Counties Manukau, Hawke's Bay, South Canterbury, Southern, Waikato, Waitemata and Wairarapa DHBs all recorded surpluses above their annual approved budgets.

Ms King did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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