District Health Board (DHB) deficits continue to spiral, with the latest numbers showing the total figure is $60 million further in the red compared with the same period the year prior.

National's health spokesman Michael Woodhouse said the numbers show Health Minister David Clark is failing to control his portfolio.

"New Zealanders' health services are suffering as a result."

But Clark said the Government is still trying to fix the health sector after it was neglected for nine years under National.

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New figures, quietly dropped on the Ministry of Health's website yesterday, shows the total deficit across all 20 DHBs for the first five months of the financial year sits at more than $230 million.

That's almost $60 million higher than the deficit over the same five-month period the year prior and $166 million higher than the same period in 2017.

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The figures also show the forecast end of financial year deficit is climbing too – the Ministry of Health expects the final figure to be $560 million.

That end of financial year estimate is up more than $30 million on when the last tranche of information was released last month.

National's health spokesman Michael Woodhouse said the numbers show Health Minister David Clark is failing to control his portfolio. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National's health spokesman Michael Woodhouse said the numbers show Health Minister David Clark is failing to control his portfolio. Photo / Mark Mitchell

But Clark said the deficits were roughly in line with the Government's expectations.

"DHBs have a clear understanding of my expectations– that they manage their finances prudently and where they haven't done that, we have intervened."

Crown monitors have been appointed in a number of DHBs across the country to keep an eye on spending.

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"I'm interested in seeing DHBs work their way to a position of financial sustainability and we don't want that to come at the cost of services to New Zealanders," Clark said.

Not only have Crown monitors been installed, but at the end of last year the Government appointed 76 new DHB board members and chairpersons.

Among those was former Finance Minister Michael Cullen.

Clark said the Government had already committed $8 billion over four years to DHBs.

"This situation will not be solved overnight, but we want to see progress in our DHBs delivering more services and also mapping out the path to suitability."

He could not say when the financial situation would turn around but noted that the health and disability sector review was due to report back next month.

"That is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to look at how the health system is set up."