Financial pressure blamed

Financial pressure on the Southern District Health Board is affecting its ability to buy equipment, the board's 2013-14 annual plan says.

Released yesterday, it said the board found it difficult to replace equipment within ''normal'' time frames.

''Many assets are currently utilised well beyond their technical-use lives, with replacements effectively happening based on when the item breaks or loses complete functionality.''

Finances would need to improve before the board could afford to replace equipment proactively.

''Consequently, the DHB currently carries a degree of risk with its asset base and servicing ability.''

The board found $11.5 million savings in 2013-14 as part of a financial recovery plan.

A $9 million deficit was forecast, but meeting it was still a ''large challenge''.

Building work was severely restricted by the financial situation, but $3.4 million had been allocated for a dedicated education/administration block, the proposed location of which was not given.

At present, there are several ''non-compliant'' administration buildings.

Because of facility constraints, particularly in Dunedin, beds in rural hospitals would be better utilised.

The board had 3670 full-time equivalent employees, and had workforce pressures because of service demands.

These would be partly addressed through a ''fundamental change in the relationship'' with the GP care sector.

A burgeoning ''alliance'' body led by University of Otago Prof Robin Gauld would deliver a first work plan next month.

This would include plans to shift some minor surgery into the community, and give GPs better access to radiology services and specialist advice.

In his formal letter of approval, Health Minister Tony Ryall said his approval was subject to an acceptable cost-saving plan being submitted to the National Health Board by October 18.

''I will be watching with keen interest your management of financial performance during 2013-14, including the delivery of the specific improvement initiatives supporting your planned net result.''



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