Budget DHB funding falls short by $300 million: expert

Excessive wait times and extreme pressures on emergency services will continue as the Government's budget for District Health Boards falls short by $300 million.

That was the response from Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) director of policy and research Lyndon Keene.

He said while it was good to see more money being channelled into community services it should not be at the expense of DHB services.

"I expect DHBs will carry enormous deficits as they are being so tightly funded.

"Across the board operational services will suffer. As a lot of hospital pressures are driven by acute admissions, elective services get put on the back burner and there's also less money for community services funded by the DHB," Keene said.

His comments come as the Government today announced $13.98m to be allocated to the 20 DHBs for operational services to meet the needs of the districts' populations. Only slightly more than the $13.24m given last year.

This part of the Budget included money for services funded by DHBs such as aged care, mental health, combined pharmaceuticals and primary care. It doesn't include money for any new or expanded services.

National's health spokesman Michael Woodhouse said DHBs had not been given enough to keep up with demand.

He said "the sea of red ink" of DHBs deficits wouldn't be fixed, and funding was "hardly enough to keep the lights on."

Before today's announcement ASMS estimated $14.28m was needed for DHBs to keep up with population growth and cost increases.

The Wellbeing Budget also included a $1.7 billion investment in hospitals and facilities over the next two years - $850 million each year.

The Dunedin Hospital will be fully funded, but the cost for that is unclear.

Keene said repairing the country's hospital buildings would not happen with one Budget and would be an ongoing project.

He said there was still a lot of uncertainty around money allocated for pay increases for doctors and nurses.

"We estimated DHBs would have to cough up $500m for pay increases and it looks like that is only being partly funded. I'm unsure if we will be seeing additional funding for this."

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