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Nelson MP Nick Smith is deeply shocked and concerned for the region’s health services with the news of the District Health Board’s worst ever deficit.

“This $11 million dollar deficit is deeply concerning and is a financial crisis for our Health Board. It compares to a planned budget surplus for the year of $0.5 million and is more than double any previous deficit. The scale of the problem is highlighted by our Health Board members describing it as a “bombshell.” Our Chief Executive has sheeted the problem back to Government saying the problem is “chronic underfunding.”

“The risk to Nelson and Marlborough’s health care from this record $11 million deficit is the financial pressure it will put services under.  The last deficit of $2.9 million was in 2013 and I know how tough it was on services and staff to put this right. This deficit is treble the size. My further concern is that critical projects like addressing Nelson Hospital’s earthquake prone buildings risks being delayed while these massive financial problems are addressed.

“The responsibility for this financial mess rests with the Government and Health Minister David Clark, rather than our District Health Board. This $11 million deficit at Nelson Marlborough Health is typical of what is wrong nationwide with a combined deficit across the country tipped to top $400 million. The root cause is that Labour way over promised in health in areas like staff pay claims but has not provided the funding to match leaving District Health Boards overwhelmed in red ink.

“The tragedy for Nelson Marlborough Health is that we had a stellar record over the past five years as one of the country’s best managed District Health Boards.  Health is turning into as big a disaster as KiwiBuild caused by Labour way over promising and under delivering. The Government needs to take responsibility for Nelson Marlborough District Health Board’s financial woes and urgently address the funding crisis it has created.”

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