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Communities across the region need to know what’s happening with health services in their towns, as health board debt continues to spiral, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“I think people should be very concerned about the Government’s lack of action in addressing health funding issues, in particular the Southern District Health Board’s on-going financial difficulties.

“People need to know just how bad this funding situation is – otherwise they can only assume that the Government has everything in hand.

“In fact that’s far from the case, with the combined deficit of New Zealand’s 20 District Health Boards looks set to balloon out to around a whopping $500 million, despite the Health Minister pledging when he took office that he would bring spending under control.

“And it doesn’t take much to see this is impacting our region, with after-hours services in Central Otago struggling, Dunstan Hospital requiring more funding to support its growing and aging population, Wanaka wanting a full birthing unit to keep its Mums and babies safe and Oamaru people deeply worried about the future of their hospital.

“What’s worse the Southern DHB has recently received an equity funding injection to help it balance its books and it’s these precarious finances that I’m concerned will have implications for people and health services across the region.

“And all this while the Health Minister continues to sit on his hands. In fact David Clark said in December 2017 that DHB debt was ‘deeply concerning’ and ‘cannot be allowed to continue’ – and yet it has worsened on his watch.

“But what has he done? He really needs to step up and be honest about what’s going on. The Government has neither provided the funding they claimed they would, nor set expectations for continued fiscal discipline.”

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