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The Southern District Health Board spent $9million in five months combatting Covid-19.
The Ministry of Health this week released the much-delayed year ending June 30 financial results for district health boards.
Until earlier this week, the relevant page on its website had not been updated since March.
Southern recorded a deficit of $35million for 2019-20, the fourth-highest of 20 DHBs.
However, when one-off costs for the Covid-19 response and compliance with the Holidays Act were added in, the SDHB’s total deficit was $49million — the sixth-highest nationally.
Nationally, DHBs recorded a total $497million deficit, plus one-off costs of $480million.
In the previous financial year, the SDHB recorded a deficit of $85.8million, including one-off costs.
That financial performance resulted in then health minister David Clark appointing two Crown monitors to observe the board’s performance as it returned to board governance after a period of being run by commissioners.
At its last board meeting, SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming reported that in the first month of the new financial year the board had recorded a $1.9million deficit, $300,000 better than forecast.
However, he warned it was too early to say whether the improved performance represented a trend, especially as the additional cost imposed by Covid-19 was so difficult to gauge.
The ministry figures demonstrated how rapidly costs for combatting Covid-19 spiralled.
In April — two months after the first case of Covid-19 was detected in New Zealand — $77million had been spent on the response.
By June, that had doubled to $154million.
The SDHB is budgeted to record a deficit of $10.9million this financial year.