Patients will suffer if DHBs’ funding cuts go ahead

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Health minister Jonathan Coleman must reconsider his decision to cut funding in real terms for 10 District Health Boards in this year’s budget, the Public Service Association says.

Documents received by Labour’s Annette King have revealed DHBs across the country will get a funding cut when population growth and inflation are taken into account.

Among those facing cuts are Waitemata, Christchurch, Capital and Coast and Hutt DHBs.

"The Public Service Association is deeply concerned at these reported cuts," PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says.

"For these DHBs, the consequences will be real and they will impact on patient care.

"Our members have told us about mental health nurses routinely working double shifts; single-use surgical instruments being sterilised and used again to cut costs; and technicians forced to buy their own equipment because the DHB won’t cough up.

"At Invercargill hospital, the waiting list for physiotherapy services is now more than a year, because the DHB can’t pay salaries to attract staff.

"Patients will suffer as a result of these cuts, and we are shocked Dr Coleman would consider this acceptable."

Dr Coleman refused to confirm the figures to TV3’s The Nation, and would not guarantee this year’s Budget would see funding keep pace with inflation and population.

"We already know this National government has cut $1.7 billion from the health budget since it’s been in office," Ms Polaczuk says.

"Our members at Waitemata were on the point of strike last month because they’re overworked and fear their patients’ care is at risk.

"We urge Dr Coleman to rethink these cuts urgently, and for all DHBs to get funding that at least keeps pace with their population growth."