DHB savings plan discussed

A Southern District Health Board multimillion-dollar savings initiative mostly comprises depreciation changes and targeting staff annual leave, the hospital advisory committee heard this week.

Senior business analyst Grant Paris' report said the final six months of 2012-13 would be challenging, as many savings initiatives took effect. More than 80% of $8.457 million in targeted savings between October 2012 and the end of the financial year would be achieved by adjusting depreciation rates to reflect the board's holding period of assets, and increasing annual leave uptake.

The board's annual leave liability stood at $26.2 million at the end of December. It was expected to improve once January was counted, and also because of ongoing encouragement to staff to take leave.

Mr Paris' report did not specify the other savings initiatives for the rest of the money. Board member Richard Thomson queried why spending on telecommunications was $249,000 over budget in the first six months of the year, especially as it was a competitive market. Mr Paris said he was expecting a report on the matter which he would supply to the board's next meeting.

Mr Paris said December was ''very good'' financially, with the board spending less on hospital services than planned, partly because of no elective surgery outsourcing.

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