DHB on track to post first surplus in eight years

Rotorua Hospital. Photo / Felix Desmarais / LDR.


That’s how the Lakes District Health Board chairman describes the organisation’s projected $2.1 million surplus at financial year end, the first surplus in eight years.

Reasons for the positive projection include fewer exchanges of patients with other DHBs and changes to the timing of projects. But it also comes in spite of higher demand during the year.

The end of May will mark the dissolution of Lakes DHB as it becomes part of the new Health NZ.

The organisation’s financial results were presented to district health board members at its monthly meeting on Friday.

It showed the year-to-date performance at the end of March was a surplus of almost $7.2 million, against a budgeted surplus of $23,000.

At the same time last year, the surplus was $1.5m.

The financial year-end budget was for a $2.3m deficit, but a $2.1m surplus was projected.

Lakes District Health Board chairman Dr Jim Mather. Photo / Andrew Warner / Rotorua Daily Post.

In the meeting, board chairman Dr Jim Mather said it was a “momentous performance”.

“This is not a primary measure of success but one of many we’re expected to achieve, a very positive financial outcome.”

Member Rees Tapsell asked chief financial officer Alan Mountfort how confident he was of retaining the surplus at year end, and Mountfort said the organisation was “holding [its] breath”.

He said in the final quarter of the year the budget was usually in a “downward trajectory”.

That did not appear to be the case this year, but a surplus was projected.

“There’s still a bit of uncertainty … at this stage it’s our best guess.”

Board member Lyall Thurston said the result was “extraordinary”.

“It also highlights the fact that come the handover on June 30, this community’s handing over two amazingly high-performing hospitals.”

Board member Dr Johann Morreau said as well as finances it was also clinically a “positive situation”.

He said the culture was “positive” and this would “drive the health of the organisation in the future”.

The DHB moved a motion thanking staff for their contribution to the financial result.

Lakes District Health Board chief executive Nick Saville-Wood. Photo / Andrew Warner / Rotorua Daily Post.

On Tuesday, Lakes DHB chief executive Nick Saville-Wood said 2014 was the last year the DHB achieved a surplus, but he was hesitant to pop the champagne prematurely.

"It is very important to note that we are not yet at the full year and there is a risk that we may have adjustments that could negatively impact this still to come through.”

He said the year-to-date surplus was impacted by some prior year adjustments, such as reduction in the exchange of patients to other DHBs – which has funding impacts - and timing on information systems projects.

“Having said this we have experienced higher acute demand this year than contracted for - no additional funding is provided for this - and despite this we have managed to keep our costs in-line with what was budgeted.”

The DHB will be disestablished on July 1, along with all of the other 19 DHBs.

It will merge functions into Health NZ, which will lead the day-to-day running of the country’s health system, in partnership with the Māori Health Authority.

-Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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