11 Jun 2015

Embattled Southern DHB responds to Minister's threat

8:13 pm on 11 June 2015

The embattled Southern District Health Board has sent a letter to the Health Minister about his threat to dismantle it.

National MP Jonathan Coleman.

Jonathan Coleman warned the Southern DHB it could be replaced by a commissioner. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Minister Jonathan Coleman gave the DHB until today to respond to his warning that board members might be replaced by a commissioner, because of poor financial performance.

The board's deficits have been growing since it was formed by merger in 2010.

Its forecasted shortfall for this financial year is about $27 million, and next year as much as $43 million.

A spokesperson for Dr Coleman said he received a letter from the board containing its response but had not made any decisions yet.

Population and need

Meanwhile, a health policy analyst said there were serious questions about whether population-based funding was helping or harming the health sector.

Otago University Professor of Health Policy Robin Gauld said an independent look could be useful, but financial checks alone would not solve the problem.

"What we don't know is whether it's wrong or not and that's why I think there needs to be a good, independent look at the formula to work out whether it really does deal to the need of the population in each region.

"Some regions probably do better than others and we just don't know whether that's the case or not."

Professor Gauld said a financial focus meant important work to improve patient care was overlooked.