Letter: Agency too costly

The Appropriation (2013/14 Supplementary Estimates) Bill seems to be rapidly becoming as dysfunctional as Novopay.

Health Benefits Ltd (the cost-cutting agency leading a multimillion-dollar push to consolidate back-office health work) is high in costs, and growing, from $88 million to $130 million, while promised returns have been downgraded by one third, and the cost recovery extended from 10 to 60 years.

The district health boards are all decrying the process, claiming it to be a Ponzi scheme and major threat to the health system, and yet this Government blunders on.

The promised ''healthy nutritional food'' supply delivered from Auckland fortunately has not yet eventuated, and hospital patients are not yet eating field rations designed for soldiers in the field.

In the meantime we have 400 valued staff throughout the country whose jobs are up in the air, and their morale must be understandably low.

HBL and Mr Ryall's explanations have been high on rhetoric and denial, and low in facts, and in the meantime the programme is two years behind where it promised to be.

When will National act in an accountable manner?

Does Mr Ryall need his own personal Novopay fiasco to prove something to the world?


(Abridged. Editor)

The Southland Times