By: Natalie Akoorie and Jacob McSweeny

Whanganui DHB chairwoman Dot McKinnon said the deficits were a reflection of an increase in poor health throughout the country.

The chairwoman of Whanganui District Health Board says the board’s $3.8m deficit for the recent financial year is a reflection of an increase in poor health thoughout the region.

District health boards around the country are $240 million in the red and current budget deficit forecasts have not been made public yet.

Whanganui DHB’s financial position is, on the face of it, in a better position than other DHBs like MidCentral or Taranaki, which posted deficits of $11.2m and $8.2m respectively.

Whanganui DHB chairwoman Dot McKinnon said the deficits were a sad reflection of the increasing health issues hospitals were facing.

“The drivers … that are bringing us all deficits is that there are just so many emergency department presentations of people needing to be in hospital,” she said.

“A lot of the conditions … diabetes and long-term conditions, the elderly population increase has also been another driver. Anyone getting over 65 is more likely to be needing hospitalisation or treatment, it’s not just hospital treatment.

“So we do have a lot of issues throughout New Zealand that’s affecting everybody. It’s just a sad comment on life really and we’ve just got to get better and better at improving our population’s health.”

All DHBs had received new budgets, but McKinnon said Whanganui wasn’t likely to get a big increase because there was greater demand elsewhere.

“Whanganui has not got as much as they could get because [our] population isn’t growing at the same rate as other centres.

“Apart from some additional funding we received for deprivation and rurality, we haven’t got the population growth. A lot of the funds the Government has for DHBs is going to those with greater population needs, particularly Auckland but also other centres.

“If we can get another 10,000 people in Whanganui in the region, it would be great for our health.”

Whanganui DHB’s chief executive, Russell Simpson has also been approached for comment.

Minister of Health Dr David Clark met DHB leaders in Wellington last month to discuss their annual plans, which will forecast expected deficit levels for the 2018/19 year.

The combined deficit of the country’s 20 DHBs is more than 100 per cent higher than was predicted this time last year, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Health.

All DHBs with deficits said higher than planned for volumes of patients was one of the key drivers behind the deficits.

Other reasons included the nurses settlement for better pay and working conditions, outsourcing personnel costs including to cover vacancies, outsourcing clinical services including to deliver elective surgeries, clinical supply costs, infrastructure costs and unmet savings.

Source: NZ Herald

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