Mixed views over board’s fi­nan­cial health

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Scott Morgan

The fi­nan­cial health of Auck­land’s med­i­cal ser­vices are up in the air with dis­trict health board mem­bers voic­ing dif­fer­ent views about the fu­ture.

At the Auck­land Dis­trict Health Board’s May meet­ing, au­dit com­mit­tee chair­man Harry Burkhardt ex­pressed con­cern about the fi­nan­cial di­rec­tion of the board.

He high­lighted the need to re­place age­ing equip­ment and the in­creas­ing cost of salaries as ma­jor con­cerns.

“You’ve got run­away costs in our busi­ness. I feel re­ally dis­em­pow­ered in the whole process.”

Mr Burkhardt de­clined to com­ment fur­ther af­ter the meet­ing.

Board chair­man Pat Sned­den was more op­ti­mistic.

“I think the ADHB is in one of its best fi­nan­cial po­si­tions in many years.”

He hopes the or­gan­i­sa­tion might break even at some point in the near fu­ture, but points out it’s al­ways diffi to pre­dict what is go­ing to hap­pen in the health sys­tem.

“There’s al­ways go­ing to be pres­sure com­ing through. It’s so trans­par­ent, any­body can put pres­sure on the process.”

Chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Roger Jar­rold says the board has over­come many of the chal­lenges it faced when its deficit bal­looned to $63.5 mil­lion in 2001 and 2002.

The bud­get blowout was due to con­struc­tion and ex­tra ser­vices pro­vided at the new Auck­land City Hospi­tal.

The board’s cur­rent debt is $10.7m.

Mr Jar­rold says the im­prove­ment comes from pro­duc­tiv­ity gains from more mod­ern fa­cil­i­ties and equip­ment, more fund­ing for na­tional ser­vices at Star­ship and stream­lin­ing ser­vices to match de­mand.

But Mr Sned­den high­lights the need for new tech­nol­ogy and added ser­vices, such as treat­ment for eat­ing disor­ders, as “ex­tremely costly” items the board has to pay for.

In­ter-dis­trict flows, where other dis­trict health boards com­pen­sate Auck­land for treat­ment their res­i­dents re­ceive at Auck­land Hospi­tal, is also a fac­tor.

Mr Sned­den says there is a lag be­tween pay­ment from other boards and ex­penses such as wage set­tle­ments, which must be met im­me­di­ately.

“We in­cur the cost be­fore we get full pay­ment.”

But he says dis­agree­ments be­tween boards about money is al­ways at the mar­gin, with 98 per­cent of fund­ing de­ci­sions caus­ing few prob­lems.

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