Labour claims SDHB loses

The Southern District Health Board lost $5 million in "real terms'' in Budget 2016, the Labour Party says.

The Labour Party launched an interactive health map yesterday showing what it says are effective health cuts throughout the country.

Despite receiving $32 million more funding in Thursday's Budget, Southern faces a cut "in real terms'' as its increase did not match cost pressures, Labour says.

It also claims more than one in four patients are turned down for operations at the health board.

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said the funding cut claim was "incorrect''.

Southern received an extra $194 million in the past eight years, he said.

Dunedin North MP David Clark, Labour's associate health spokesman, said strains in the health sector as a whole were increasingly evident.

"More and more medical professionals are getting in touch to say that they are uncomfortable with the minister's spin.

"I think the minister is feeling the pressure. More and more people are speaking up.''

The big health announcement in the Budget was confirmation of a nationwide bowel cancer screening programme, and Dr Clark said he was disappointed it was not starting in the South where the need was highest because of bowel cancer incidence and death rates.

The programme will be introduced in Wairarapa and Hutt Valley boards.

There is no word on when it will be introduced in the South.

The programme will take three years to implement nationally.

Dr Coleman's office referred questions on the screening programme to the Health Ministry.

● Data for Labour's interactive health map has been compiled using parliamentary questions, Treasury Budget data, DHB clinical staffing numbers, monthly updates to the minister, Statistics New Zealand population data, DHB documents, and survey data from the PSA.

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