Health board cuts deficit to $2.9m

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has ended the financial year under budget with a "very positive" deficit of $2.93 million.

It predicted a deficit of $3m at last month's board meeting.

At that meeting chief executive Chris Fleming predicted if the board ended the financial year on June 30 with a projected deficit of $3m or less, the national health board would change its financial performance rating from "deteriorating" to "improving" or "stable" before releasing it from intensive monitoring later in the year or early in 2014.

The board was placed under intensive monitoring in January because of its budgeting challenges. It has $418m funding and at the end of last year it was looking at a $8.2m deficit.

After an intensive monitoring meeting with the NHB earlier this month, the board's rating has been upgraded to "improving". It will be reviewed again in September.

Mr Fleming said staff morale had been affected by the tight financial control necessary to get rid of the deficit, but once a "final push" had been achieved, the DHB would be back "in control of its own destiny". Some of the strict controls would be relaxed once financial targets had been achieved.

Financial officer Eric Sinclair said the results put the DHB into a good position to start the new financial year.

Among the "key lessons" he reported from this year's financial issues were an increased focus on creating a "realistic" budget for the 2013-2014 financial year; being as open as possible with the board about where the financial results were heading; and gathering information as soon as possible in relation to the 2014-2015 budget.