A software accounting error that under-calculated Southern
District Health Board's deficit by $3.4 million was a
''oncer'', board chairman Joe Butterfield told MPs yesterday.
The error was revealed at Parliament's health select
committee financial review of the health board.
The board's official deficit was $11.9 million, but it should
have been $15.3 million, Labour MP Annette King confirmed to
the Otago Daily Times after the hearing.
She believed it possible that financial pressure and a wish
to avoid scrutiny meant the board did not wish to disclose
its full deficit.
''They've got a plan to get out of deficit over the next
three years, and it's a very, very vicious plan.''
The correct figure was in an audit report that has not been
The board is blaming its Oracle software, from the United
States, which allowed a depreciation write-down that did not
comply with New Zealand accounting standards.
Ms King told Mr Butterfield, who was appearing by video-link
from Timaru, that most New Zealand health boards used Oracle
software and the board should be well aware of the issue.
''This is a black and white issue. It's not just a maybe
''It's a black and white issue that it's the wrong way to do
it,'' she said.
Mr Butterfield said the error was noticed in auditing of the
2012-13 financial year, but the final deficit figure would
not be altered. Instead, the $3.4 million would be paid down
in depreciation over the next five years.
''It's a oncer,'' he said.
Ms King said her main concern was the pressure the board was
under to break even, and she suggested financial stress was
forcing it to defer new equipment purchasing and cut patient
Mr Butterfield rejected the suggestion and said equipment was
replaced when necessary.
Chief executive Carole Heatly said none of the board's
waiting lists had worsened since the board's cost-saving
drive started about 18 months ago.
''All of our waiting lists are coming down,'' she said.
Mr Butterfield could not be contacted after the meeting for