'Floating $4m' worries DHB members

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 03/08/2012

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Concerns over a "floating $4 million" were raised at a Southern District Health Board meeting in Invercargill yesterday, as the board steels itself for a $12.7 million deficit.

The discussion began at the Hospital Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday afternoon, when committee member Richard Thomson asked for more reassurance regarding a $3.9 million debt, which under a different accounting method, had turned into revenue on the books this month.

A different way of accounting has already led to a lowering of the projected deficit, which was at $15.5 million in a worst case scenario last month. The debate over the $3.9 million continued at the board meeting yesterday morning, following a public-excluded audit committee meeting.

Mr Thomson had been concerned the issue would "get buried" without public awareness, but was reassured at the Thursday hospital committee meeting that would not happen.

Yesterday, board members agreed it was still unclear how moving the amount would impact numbers in the next financial year. Committee member Neville Cook agreed the public had a right to know financial details, but said the public also needed to understand the accounts, which even board members were grappling with.

Yesterday, Mr Thomson said he still had a problem with the lack of understanding of where the $3.9 million was going.

"My concern is that we are creating a liability for ourselves". . . "We have $4 million floating around and we don't understand when, how or where this is going to hit us."

Mr Thomson said the lack of answers was not acceptable.

Board chairman Joe Butterfield said more information would be available next month, about the $3.9 million and the year-end deficit, which has not been audited yet.

"Until we have all the information, the amount is not certain."

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