Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Managing to the target

New Zealand's health system is chronicly underfunded, and so almost all DHBs run deficits. Last month, just before he bailed out Canterbury DHB, Health Minister Chris Hipkins was repeating the mantra that DHBs must live within their means and "have a credible plan to return to financial sustainability". But yesterday, he was shocked - shocked! - to learn that Auckland DHB had shut most of its Covid-19 testing centres and had none open on weekends:

Auckland's Covid community testing centres have been dramatically scaled back, with just six still operating - and none open on weekends.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins is investigating the change, saying testing must remain readily accessible.

There had been 20 dedicated community testing centres at the height of the latest Covid outbreak but most have been dropped now Auckland is at alert level 1.


In a statement, he said it was his "clear expectation" testing was readily available seven days a week.

Well, maybe he could pay for it then. Because ATM this just looks like a clear example of the DHB doing exactly what he told them to do: sacrifice health services to save money. The fact that they're doing this to essential services in the middle of a pandemic is obviously terrible, but if Hipkins doesn't want DHBs to manage to the target he set them, then he needs to set a different one.