The Lakes District Health Board is forecasting a $10 million deficit for the end of the financial year – double the shortfall it submitted in its 2018/19 Annual Plan.
The latest district health board (DHB) financial results, for the 11 months to May, were released on Friday by the Ministry of Health.
It showed the Lakes DHB with an $8m deficit.
In the previous month's results, for the 10 months to April, the DHB recorded a deficit of $6m, which means there was an increase of $2m in a single month.
All but one of the country's 20 DHBs are in the red, the new financial results showed, with the total DHB deficit now at $423m .
At the same time in May last year, it was $204m.
Across all DHBs, the deficit grew by $112m, or 36 per cent, in a single month from April to May.
The total deficit by financial year-end was now forecast to be $508m – compared with Treasury and Ministry forecasts of $390m just months ago.
In the latest financial results, the Lakes DHB forecast a $10m deficit for the end of the financial year (June 30), a blowout from the $5.1m deficit it forecast in its 2018/19 Annual Plan published earlier this year, and the $9m deficit it forecast in April.
The final financial results for 2018/19, incorporating June, have not yet been released.
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Lakes DHB chief executive Nick Saville-Wood told the Rotorua Daily Post the year-end forecast was higher as it included expected one-off costs to remedy DHB obligations under the Holidays Act, and write-off costs from the previous National Oracle Solution project .
"Further to this the month of May was particularly busy for Rotorua and Taupo hospitals causing costs to exceed budget."
The Ministry did note budgets were expected to take major one-off hits for compliance with the Holidays Act and write-offs of its troubled National Oracle Solution IT system.
In its report, the Ministry also attributed the situation to personnel, service, clinical supply and infrastructure costs, and payments to other providers.
South Canterbury District Health Board was the only authority to break even.
In a statement, Minister of Health David Clark said the shortfalls were the result of years of underfunding by the previous government.
But he said the Government did not accept deficits were inevitable.
"Some DHBs manage to post small surpluses, break even or only post small deficits while maintaining services. It can be done," Clark said.
"DHBs have been directed to ensure they improve on their underlying deficit position in their 2019-20 planning."
The Government had put up $695 million of extra funding for DHBs in this year's Budget along with capital funding for cash-strapped boards, he said.
The 20 DHBs were given $13.98 billion in May, compared with $13.24 billion last year.
Clark has previously warned them to tighten their belts.
But Rotorua MP Todd McClay said funding for the Lakes DHB had "increased by around $60m per year under National with 60 additional doctors and 80 more nurses being employed during this time".
"Our doctors and nurses and health staff work very hard and have my full support but sadly the Labour Party promised big before the last election and in the year of delivering there is none.
"Surgery waiting times are growing and it's taking longer for people to be treated. Labour promised big increases in funding and Rotorua is being let down."
In the Lakes DHB's 2018 Annual Report, board chairman Deryck Shaw wrote that the board "actively scrutinises cost-saving action plans, but it is getting harder to find savings and efficiency drivers without changing service delivery".
He said the DHB had not been able to stay within its budget for the year ended June 30, 2018 and had finished with a $5m deficit.
"We remain focused on continuous quality improvement because our population deserves the highest standards of health service.
"Improvements through national, regional and sub-regional initiatives are a key focus to ensure a sustainable workforce, clinical networks and economic efficiencies."
In its 2018/19 Annual Plan – under the heading "Plans for managing funding deficits" – the DHB wrote that it faced "significant challenges" in achieving a break even forecast. It said the Annual Plan contained cost containment strategies.
Under "Risk Management Strategies", the DHB said its major financial risks were "those relating to the staff cost increases and technology cost increases in the Provider arm".
- Additional reporting: NZME