Gore Hospital's funding level frozen says CEO

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 05:00 29/05/2014

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Rural hospitals funded by the Southern District Health Board will not receive any extra funding in the next financial year, the head of Gore Health says.

Gore Health is in charge of running Gore Hospital, and its chief executive, Karl Metzler, says rural hospitals in the southern region have had their funding capped for the next financial year, starting July 1.

They are Gore Hospital, Dunstan Hospital in Clyde, Maniototo Hospital in Ranfurly, Clutha Health First in Balclutha and Oamaru Hospital, he said.

"Our funding is sitting the same [$5.2 million] for the next 12 months," Metzler said of Gore Hospital.

Gore Health traditionally negotiated an inflationary increase of about 2 per cent for its public hospital funding, Metzler said.

In a bid to cope, Gore Health would use surpluses from its private practices to help run the publicly funded hospital, which was "wrong", he said.

The hospital had also done this in previous years. "The DHB knows we give our private money to the public sector and they are genuinely committed to funding the public side adequately."

Despite the financial pressures, services would not be scaled back and jobs would not be lost at Gore Hospital, he said.

Gore Health still received "very good support" from the DHB, which was facing deficits of its own.

"We all have to tighten our belts and make it work."

The Southern District Health Board was in the process of evaluating what services it needed to fund each of its rural hospitals, Metzler said.

He understood the rural hospitals, including Gore, would receive five-year contracts instead of the current three-year ones, which he supported.

"We will get small [funding increases] each year after that, is the hope."

The funding shortfall for Gore Hospital follows a $1m cut to the Gore Hospital budget in 2005, which caused a lot of pain and some redundancies, Metzler said.

Southern District Health Board executive director of planning and funding Sandra Boardman, when asked by The Southland Times if it was capping its funding for rural hospitals next year, said it was negotiating base contracts for 2014-15 with each of its rural hospitals, including Gore.

When asked if the SDHB was aware Gore Health was using its private surpluses to run the public hospital, she said the DHB had a positive relationship with Gore Health and was in regular contact.

The DHB, which had increased the value of Gore Health's agreement for each of the last three financial years, would always have to prioritise how it allocated funding across all services.

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In response to Metzler saying rural hospitals would receive five-year contracts instead of three, Boardman said that issue was a "matter for negotiation" between the DHB and each of the health board's rural hospitals.

The DHB was developing a strategic health services plan for the funding and delivery of all its services, not just rural hospitals, she said. The plan was due for completion early next year.

Base contract funding the Southern District Health Board is giving its five rural hospitals this financial year, ending July 1, 2014. Gore: $5.230m Dunstan: $9.337m Oamaru: $9.737m Maniototo: $1.257m Clutha: $5.483m Source: Southern District Health Board

- The Southland Times

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