The Southern District Health Board could be punished for high performance:
The Southern District Health Board’s hard work to catch up on surgery postponed because of the Covid-19 lockdown may have backfired, as the organisation is still waiting to be told it will be paid for that work.
Without confirmation the Ministry of Health will pay for those operations, the SHDB might need to scale back how many surgeries it carried out to meet financial targets, chief executive Chris Fleming said in a report to the board.
“Other DHBs have delayed their recovery awaiting confirmation of funding, but we do not believe patients should have to wait simply while funding arrangements were sourced as this simply delayed patients further than necessary,” Mr Fleming said.
Doctors warned that cancelling all elective surgery during the lockdown could cost lives. Delaying operations further once the lockdown was lifted would not have been in the best interests of patients.
“If we do not receive confirmation of this funding prior to the final audited results being produced, we will need to deteriorate our performance to not impact 2020-21.”
The SDHB quickly put a surgical recovery plan in place after the Covid-19 lockdown lifted.
The ministry had asked all DHBs to attempt to deliver up to 85% of planned surgery in June.
The SDHB, which postponed about 1200 operations during lockdown, not only achieved 100% of target, but also performed an extra 200 operations above target through initiatives such as running weekend clinics.
“This came at an outsourced cost of approximately $1.2 million,” Mr Fleming said.
“We have assumed that the volume in excess of our plan for the month will be able to be recovered from additional planned care revenue.”
However that has not been confirmed, leaving the SDHB’s already parlous finances further stretched — and meaning a question mark remained over whether it should continue to try to clear the backlog of procedures.
But Mr Fleming stood by the SDHB’s “assertive approach” to get as many people’s operations performed as quickly as possible. . .
The DHB should not be punished for performing as it should for its patients.
Waiting lists for elective surgery can be weeks, and even months, at the best of times.
All of the people whose surgery was delayed would have been living with greater or lesser degrees of pain and/or disability, and/or potentially fatal diseases. Doing operations as soon as possible once the lockdown prohibition was lifted would have improved the quality of life for all those affected. It would have also lengthened lives for some and saved lives of others.
Delaying surgery further for people with debilitating, possibly fatal, conditions would have been inhumane and funding the extra work ought to be a government priority.
It would be much better use of scarce funds than projects that have received handouts through the Provincial Growth Fund‘s ‘treacle-ridden process’:
It’s been three years and despite many, many questions, New Zealanders still have no idea whether the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has created the jobs it was intended to, National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.
Even if Shane Jones’ heroic projection of 10,000 jobs is realised, it will come at a cost to taxpayers of about $300,000 per job. This is incredibly poor value for money for taxpayers.
“But not only that, Shane Jones has turned out to be too incompetent to even to hand free taxpayers’ cash to his pet projects. So far, for every dollar committed, just 12.9 cents has been paid out. Even Shane Jones has admitted this is a ‘treacle-riddled process’. . .
A government that purports to be kind ought to understand that when it comes to surgery to improve, and even save, lives and a treacle-ridden process, there is no contest.
One should be regarded as a core government function. The other is thinly-disguised vote-buying.