16 Jun 2017

Coleman berates officials over $38m blunder

6:32 pm on 16 June 2017

Taxpayers will have to foot the bill for an audit after money from the Budget was incorrectly allocated to DHBs, and the Health Minister is blaming officials.

Caucas run.

"I've told the health officials that there's no way this can happen again," said Health Minister Jonathan Coleman. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Some district health boards will have to return money to the Ministry of Health after the incorrect allocation of $38 million of Budget funds.

For most DHBs the inaccuracy was $1m to $2m, with 14 getting more than they should, and six getting less.

Director-General of Health Chai Chuah has apologised for the error.

Independent auditors Deloitte have now been brought in to establish how it happened, an expense Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said taxpayers would have to absorb.

Dr Coleman said such a mistake was unacceptable.

"The ministry has made an error in the allocation of the $439 million across the 20 district health boards, so they've given some more than they should have had and some less and that error needs to be corrected.

"I've made it very clear to the Director-General of Health that this is unacceptable, ministers need to have total confidence in the figures that they're supplied with."

Dr Coleman said the bigger picture was that it was a fraction of 1 percent of the total health vote and it did not change the total amount of money that district health boards received as a group.

He said it was frustrating however that officials did not get the figures right and it undermined the good work that was being done by the Ministry of Health.

"In the end, officials have not done their job properly and they've owned up to that."

Dr Coleman said the big picture in health was excellent with, for example, 50,000 more operations a year and nearly 7000 extra doctors and nurses, but this type of technical error was irritating and undermined confidence in the Ministry of Health.

"I've told the health officials that there's no way this can happen again," said Dr Coleman.

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