DHB must tighten belt

19:13, May 21 2012

Some serious savings need to be made at Waikato District Health Board – and a hiring freeze could form part of the solution.

Keeping wage increases – not already budgeted for – close to zero per cent is also being mooted, with DHB board members set to discuss such savings options at a meeting tomorrow.

The DHB had been planning for a $13 million surplus for the year 2012/13 but that's been reduced to a mere $1 million. They must also shave $24 million from the budget by 2013/14.

A hiring and capital freeze are among options DHB chief financial officer Maureen Chrystall included in her report to the board about how to mitigate future financial risks.

She said the DHB did not have a "good record" of achieving savings so there would be some challenges.

Another possible way to increase savings was to reduce services in areas which had a low impact on the DHB's objective to improve the health of the region. She also said the employee relations environment presented uncertainty and while wage increases had been included in the budget forecast, she was worried some employee representatives may have high expectations.


A one per cent increase in wage rates would add an extra $4.7 million to the payroll costs. Mrs Chrystall suggested negotiating lower than inflation or close to zero per cent increases.

Chief operating officer Jan Adams said improving the DHB's financial performance and meeting all operational budgets and savings was imperative.

Chief executive Craig Climo did not want to comment on the DHB's finances before it had been discussed by the board.

Waikato Times