The total District Health Board (DHB) deficit has jumped by $40 million in the space of just a month, according to the most recent financial results.
This is one of the largest single-month deficit increases since September 2017.
The year-to-March financial results show the overall deficit across all 20 DHBs was $264 million.
The same figures for the month prior showed a total deficit of $221 million.
The DHB data, obtained by the National Party from written questions to Health Minister David Clark, showed all DHBs but one – South Canterbury – were in the red.
At $64 million, Canterbury DHB's deficit is the highest in the country. Waikato is second with a $43 million shortfall and Counties Manukau is third with a $30 million deficit.
Speaking at the health select committee this morning, Health Minister David Clark acknowledged that DHBs were "under pressure".
He admitted it was "not realistic to expect all DHBs to break even in the coming year. I want them to get closer to that – that is my expectation."
Clark said the Government was looking at the planning process at the moment.
Speaking to media before going into the House today, Clark said he was sending a "clear message to DHBs that I expect them to manage their resources carefully, but also to continue to deliver the services New Zealanders would expect them to".
He said part of the Government's plan to turn the deficit around was to invest in new models of care, which are better for the patient and cheaper to deliver.
The DHBs' financial results for March are not yet publicly available on the Ministry of Health's website and were obtained through written questions to the Health Minister.
National's health spokesman Michael Woodhouse said this was not good enough.
"The fact that I have had to get this information from a Parliamentary written question rather than have the publicly available data come up is, in my view, an attempt by the Minister and the Ministry to mask a rapidly deteriorating financial position [of the DHBs]."
The March DHB data also showed that the Ministry of Health was now expecting the final 2018/19 financial year deficit to be $390 million.
This is in line with Treasury's estimates in the Budget.
The Government provided an additional $190 million in Budget for DHBs to manage their deficits and to help maintain their cash flow, on top of other Budget funding for DHBs.
Speaking to media outside the health select committee this morning, the Ministry of Health's director-general Ashley Bloomfield was not keen on commenting on the deficits.
He said the money in the Budget for DHBs was "the biggest uplift DHBs have had in the last 10 years.
"Our job is to work with DHBs to ensure they continue to deliver the services people need and that they work towards a path of financial sustainability."
When questioned about the $390 million projected deficit – forecast by both the Treasury and the Ministry of Health – Bloomfield said those figures were just "speculation" and would not comment on "what the deficits might be".