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The Star: March 23, 2017

6 Thursday

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The Star 7 News Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi Thursday March 23 2017 CDHB may pay for late surgeries • By Gabrielle Stuart CANTERBURY could lose $24 million in funding for surgeries because the health board has failed to meet Government targets. Rebuild work on operating theatres and doctor strikes in January have meant the Canterbury District Health Board has fallen 515 surgeries behind its target this year. Some patients have been left waiting more than six months for treatment or a first assessment. That breaks Government funding conditions, of which the penalty is a funding cut. The Ministry of Health has written to the CDHB to say the penalty will be $24 million, but it will not decide until June if it will charge or waive the penalty. CDHB still plans to carry out its target of more than 20,000 surgeries this year, so it will have to find a way to make up the cost if the penalty is charged. Its budget for the year is already in the red, with a shortfall forecast of more than $39 million. Ministry of Health service commissioning director Jill Lane said the decision whether to charge the penalty would depend on the CDHB reducing the number of long-waiting patients and achieving its target. That means having fewer than one per cent of patients waiting for more than six months and completing the year’s target of 20,982 surgeries by June. The target was set by the CDHB based on what it believed it could achieve, but problems like the doctor strikes disrupted the schedule, a report said. It deferred 916 outpatient appointments during the three-day strike in January. Chief executive David Meates said the rebuild of the hospital was also partially responsible. He said it had a recovery plan, which included outsourcing some surgery to private providers. “However, the fact remains we continue to be constrained by our lack of theatre capacity until our new facilities are complete next year,” he said. He said the health board was “acutely aware” of the threat of a financial penalty. Health board acting chairman Mark Solomon did not respond to emails or calls from The Star. Health board member Jo Kane said the CDHB had no extra money to cover a shortfall. “We can’t close down the cancer ward, or close down ED for a couple of days. We don’t have pots of money anywhere that we can pull money from to cover this,” she said. She said its only option would be to “beg” Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman for funding. The Star asked Dr Coleman if he would consider a bail-out, but he did not respond. Canterbury Charity Hospital founder Philip Bagshaw said it was having to expand the amount of surgery it did to fill gaps in the public service. “They’re progressively restricting the funding, it’s going down in real terms, and it’s reaching a crisis level,” he said. Confusion surrounding Cathedral announcement • By Gabrielle Stuart THE ANGLICAN Diocese appears not to know when an announcement about the Christ Church Cathedral will be made, or who will make it. Great Christchurch Buildings Trust co-chairman Jim Anderton said last week he was expecting an announcement on the future of the Cathedral last Friday. But diocese spokesman Jayson Rhodes said that was “news to us”. He said the diocese did not know when an announcement would be made, or whether it would be made by the diocese or by Government. Anglican Church Property Trustees have been in talks with Government this week, trying to reach a deal, but Mr Rhodes said they were taking the talks “day-by-day”. 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