The Government is poised to unveil "significant changes" around New Zealand's financially embattled District Health Boards (DHBs) in the coming weeks, according to Health Minister David Clark.
This comes after months of widening deficits and emergency government bailout money being paid out to nine DHBs.
This morning, the Herald revealed close to $400 million of bailout money had been paid out to DHBs after officials warned that, without the payout, staff wages could have been affected.
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Clark, however, told the Herald the Government would never let DHBs get to that position.
Speaking to media this morning, he said the Government was due to announce "significant changes" to DHBs – but would not be drawn on details.
"One of the things you will see is some significant change when new board appointments are made in the coming weeks.
"You will see changes then, I'm not about to pre-announce them now."
Those changes are due to go before Cabinet in the coming weeks and will be announced in mid-December, Clark said.
National's health spokesman Michael Woodhouse said that whatever is coming in December can only be an improvement on "what has been a woeful performance so far".
If the changes are indeed ministerial appointments onto DHBs, Woodhouse questioned why anyone would take that job, as "they're on a hiding to nothing".
"The minister is going to have a very difficult time to try to find people of the calibre he needs, to even offer themselves as DHB appointees."
Asked about the persistent deficits and the bailouts, Clark said that it was four DHBs out of the 20 total which accounted for the overall $1 billion deficit figure.
He said the deficits have been growing since 2013 when the balance sheets "ran dry".
Finance Minister Grant Robertson also blamed the previous government for the DHBs' financial woes.
He said he was "very concerned" when it comes to the funding of New Zealand's health system.
"What happens after nine years of neglect is it takes a significant time to make up for that," he told reporters this morning.
He added that he was working very closely with the Minister of Health on managing the deficits.
But Woodhouse said putting the blame entirely on the previous National government is not fair.
"It's a tired old argument from a minister that can't stop that broken record," he said.
"He's got to stop blaming other people for a situation that he is solely responsible for and get on and fix it."