Editorial: DHB surplus can bolster services

WARWICK RASMUSSEN DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 28/11/2012

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OPINION: Having unexpected money is a nice position to be in.

While not quite a $20 million Lotto Powerball win, MidCentral District Health Board has reported a $6.7 million surplus for the 2011-12 financial year. It is the second year that the DHB has run a surplus after years of running up multimillion-dollar deficits.

Back then, the squeeze was put on by Health Minister Tony Ryall for MidCentral to find ways to stay within budget and to be more "efficient".

In 2010 alone, the DHB was asked to find $10m in savings across its operations.

One of the items in the firing line was the Star rehabilitation unit.

Last year Dr Jurriaaan de Groot quit to set up his own private practice after 16 years with the Star unit.

His kind of experience went out the door.

Now, with more money than it had planned for, the DHB is asking staff for ways in which the money will be spent.

Since this is the second year of a surplus, will they look at reinstating the rehab unit to where it was before the cuts?

There was a lot of anger at the cuts to rehab as it limited the number of people who could be seen by staff. That meant, at least in theory, there were fewer opportunities for people to get back up and working again.

Or will the DHB look at getting rid of its paid parking programme? That was brought in as a way of gathering revenue to help offset the years of deficits.

Now that it's in surplus, will paid parking be scrapped or at least reviewed?

It was one of the most unpopular moves by the DHB, that had a small amount to gain for the annoyance and disruption that it caused.

The people who pull the purse strings at MidCentral deserve a pat on the back for living well within their means. But, surely, with a surplus of this size, the money should be providing even better services for people who need it, rather than rolling it over to the next year.

News travels fast, but it seems that gossip travels even faster. The people of Sanson are finding this out thanks to The Occasional Newsletter, put out by Ann Fullerton who said: "We live in a democracy, and people should know what's going on."

She is absolutely right and more power to her if she is holding those responsible for public money to account. Referring to someone repeatedly as the "village gay" crosses a line, though, as is speculating about possible crimes in the town.

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- Manawatu Standard

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