The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board is tracking towards a $4.5 million loss at the end of the financial year unless it can make some savings.
Board corporate services manager Nick Lanigan said they faced an almost $1.8m deficit at the end of November.
The cost of treating Marlborough and Nelson patients at hospitals in other districts was the main contributor to the deficit, he said.
These inter-district costs were $1.26m more than the budget to date.
Most of the money had gone to the Capital and Coast DHB in Wellington.
The patients had either required further specialist treatment or were travelling and fell ill, Mr Lanigan said.
"The other DHB effectively bills Nelson-Marlborough for these costs."
District health boards charged each other about $4600 per case weight, which was a measure of costs and the resources needed, Mr Lanigan said.
For example, a cardiac patient who spent a week in intensive care after surgery might equal 30 case weights.
The board usually also paid for specialist transport and a nursing team to accompany patients being transferred. Board member John Inder, of Blenheim, suggested Marlborough was penalised compared with health districts closer to Auckland when children were flown to Starship children's hospital "at extraordinary cost".
Mr Lanigan agreed that an early birth or a very sick child could be very expensive for the board.
Clinical supplies such as stents, catheters and prostheses cost almost $700,000 more than budgeted to date, Mr Lanigan said in his November financial report to the board meeting in Blenheim last week.
Since setting the budget, the Government had funded the board an extra $1.6m for vaccines, long-term support for people with chronic conditions and mental health services in the community.
The board was on target to deliver its Ministry of Health contract to perform elective surgery on 6030 people this financial year.
Chief executive John Peters said that there had been a catch-up on people waiting more than six months for surgery whose health conditions tended to be complex.
This was reflected in the cost of clinical supplies and drugs.
- The Nelson Mail
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