SDHB’s Sept deficit doubles

Covid-19 continues to be a major drain on the Southern District Health Board’s finances, despite it having received an unbudgeted $7million towards its vaccination programme.

Even with this unexpected funding, the SDHB’s deficit for the month of September was more than double what was budgeted, a report to be considered by the board tomorrow said.

The $5.5million deficit was partly due to a drop in revenue from surgery due to the Alert Level 4 lockdown, and an unplanned $1.2million expenditure initiated because of added demands caused by the community outbreak in Auckland of the Delta variant.

The SDHB also lost a budgeted $1.1million of revenue from Pharmac after the Government’s drug-buying agency reduced the amount of money it had been expected to distribute nationally to cover Covid-19.

The board is now $10.3million in the red, having budgeted for a deficit of $5.7million by this point.

Chief executive Chris Fleming said he hoped the Ministry of Health would follow what it did during the 2020 lockdown and guarantee DHB revenues for that period.

"The ministry have indicated that they may fund the impact, but we have not recognised this to date on the basis that to recover this shortfall additional outsourcing will be required."

The latest lockdown meant the deferral of surgeries which would have earned the board just over $3 million, and it also increased staff expenses by about $600,000.

Meanwhile, the board has made some changes to its executive team.

Patrick Ng, formerly the specialist services executive director, has been appointed the SDHB’s chief digital officer.

A new position, chief operating officer, has been created to replace the specialist services role and it will be filled on a six-month secondment by Hamish Brown, the programme director on the new Dunedin Hospital project.

Recently appointed medical officer of health John Eastwood will also have a six-month secondment from his role, to fill in as chief medical officer due to the imminent departure from the role of Nigel Millar.

Hastings Health Centre chief executive Andrew Lesperance has been appointed planning, funding and population/public health executive director, covering most of the duties formerly performed by departed senior executive Lisa Gestro.

Communications executive director Nicola Mutch has resigned to take up a new role in Wellington.

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