Books balance but future shaky

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2012

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Canterbury's health finances are in check this year but "volatility is coming", officials warn.

The cost of the earthquakes on Canterbury's health system has been covered by the Government for another year, but the next five to 10 years could be hard as repairs and insurance bills skew the books.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) will end the financial year in a "break-even position" after the Ministry of Health gave $10 million to underwrite quake-related costs.

Board general manager of finance Justine White said that in the 2010-11 financial year the Government gave $16m to the board to cover costs.

Asked if the Government would continue doing this every year, White said: "We are continuing to work closely with the ministry."

The board had forecast a $25m deficit for this financial year, which ends this week, but only $10m had eventuated.

This would have a "flow-on effect" for the coming years, she said.

"There are a number of elements we have to take into account but there will be impacts in terms of our financial position for the foreseeable future. We're talking five to 10 years."

Earthquake repairs and insurance receipts could continue to have a "significant impact" on balance sheets.

"We don't have a crystal ball but we do know that volatility is coming and we're seeing that in revenue as well as population volatility, which can determine the population-based funding," White said. "[The quakes] have certainly made things fun ... but you work with what you've got."

In April, CDHB chief executive David Meates said the board might miss out on $16m of health funding because of a post-quake exodus from the board's catchment area.

A board spokeswoman yesterday said the details of the population-based funding were still unknown.

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- The Press

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