DHB bailouts symptomatic of underfunding
Emergency cash injections for DHBs are a symptom of a woefully inadequate budget planning process that is increasingly an exercise in futility, Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Executive Director Ian Powell says.
Mr Powell was commenting on a New Zealand Herald story that reveals equity injections to seven DHBs totalling $142 million to keep them afloat in the last financial year. This was on top of an earlier $92 million payout in January, and a further $134 million is allocated for equity support in the current financial year.
Mr Powell says annual DHB budget planning processes have become farcical.
“DHBs are being pressured to find mythical savings that are then not realised. It is a wasteful and futile exercise in wishful thinking, he says.
“Proper budget planning to meet the predicted actual operational costs of providing quality and accessible patient care would avoid the necessity for equity injections and would enable DHBs to engage in long-term planning, rather than chasing short-term savings that risk the standard of and access to patient care.”
Mr Powell says Health Minister David Clark must show leadership and encourage the Ministry of Health to face reality.
“He must ensure that health funding in next year’s Budget meets the estimated operational costs of district health boards providing quality care to their patients.
“At present Dr Clark is busy trying to have it both ways. He blames the previous National government for underfunding, but at the same time implies that DHBs should be able to make ends meet.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Mr Powell says.