WDHS faces financial challenges

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Until Waitaki District Health Services (WDHS) can recruit more permanent doctors to Oamaru Hospital, the organisation is likely to face ongoing financial challenges, chairman Paul Allison says.

In his half-yearly report to be presented to a Waitaki District Council meeting tomorrow, Mr Allison said there had been an overall operating deficit of $1,176,227 in the six months ended December 31, 2019.

This compared to a deficit of $712,337 recorded over the same period in the previous financial year.

The company’s financial performance had been disappointing, Mr Allison said.

“Moving the company into a financially sustainable position is a priority, as we look to overcome the continued dependence upon locum staff,” Mr Allison said.

“The marginal cost of each locum doctor is $200,000 [per annum] which has contributed significantly to the ongoing cash flow difficulties.”

The company was reviewing its medical roster to “maintain service quality and safety through utilisation of different staff mixes” and would be revisiting its underlying business model to help ensure long-term financial and clinical sustainability, he said.

Meanwhile, the company’s search for a new permanent chief executive is continuing.

Current chief executive Ruth Kibble was seconded from her role as primary health partnerships director at the South Canterbury District Health Board in September 2018, after the departure of former chief executive Robert Gonzales.

Mr Allison said Mrs Kibble’s secondment, to end in June, was always a temporary measure as the company negotiated and finalised health service contracts with the Southern District Health Board (SHDB).

WDHS is wholly owned by the Waitaki District Council, owns and operates Oamaru Hospital and provides health services in the Waitaki district under contract to the SDHB.

Otago Daily Times