Board's $11m budget deficit 'still realistic'

Southern District Health Board chairman Joe Butterfield has asked for a progress report on the board's increasing deficit, five months into the financial year.

The latest results show that as of October 31, the year-to-date deficit is $7.6 million, with a $11m deficit budgeted for the 2012-13 year.

At yesterday's board meeting in Dunedin, Mr Butterfield asked management if they believed they could stay within that budgeted deficit.

Board executive director of funding and finance Robert Mackway-Jones said a $600,000 variance at the end of October had come from significant acute cases during the winter.

In November, fluctuations around annual leave also impacted the budget, he said.

Other impacts were $600,000 in community pharmaceutical expenses - which he expected to be regained - and $700,000 of unfavourable costs associated with patients transferring from other health boards.

Mr Butterfield said the board no longer had a full year to regain costs and the discussions needed to happen before the holiday break.

"Five months is a significant chunk of the year ... where are we at?"

He said he would take the nods from around the board table as confirmation the budget was still realistic.

Chief executive officer Carole Heatly said management knew what was ahead in 2013.

"We always knew it was going to be tough, but we are committed."

The annual budget has been agreed between the Southern DHB and the National Health Board, but is pending ministerial approval.

Part of the budget revision has included adjusting for the new insurance premium increases which had shown as an unfavourable variance before October.

The Southland Times