SDHB, go balance the books

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Don’t hold your breath for more public health dollars, Queenstown.

That’s the conclusion from a newly released letter to Southland District Health Board from Health Minister Tony Ryall and Finance Minister Bill English – Queenstown’s MP.

Ryall and English were writing to reluctantly approve SDHB’s “district annual plan” forecasting an $8.3 million deficit this fiscal year. SDHB plans to cut those losses by $3.8m this year and by another $2.8m over the next two years.

But that’s not good enough.

“Improving the financial performance of your DHB is a key priority,” Ryall orders – go away and balance your books.

“Please complete the Financial Recovery Plan by September 20, 2009 … to identify a path to break even by 2011-12.”

“Your plan will likely involve some service re-design …” In plain language – cuts.

The Invercargill-biased SDHB has faced public criticism for years over shortchanging the Wakatipu.