This looks interesting, new lefty blogger might have one by the tail [UPDATED]

Slightly Left of Centre has an interesting tale on his blog:

Slightly Left of Centre can reveal this afternoon that Former Health Minister Tony Ryall, who was thought by many to be a highly respected Minister, was forced to quit by Finance Minister Bill English after it became clear that the much vaunted crown owned entity, Health Benefits Limited (HBL), had become a financial disaster.

Sources have told us that?HBL,?set up in 2010, is on the brink of financial collapse and that an announcement is due from Mr English in the next day or two. Sources also tell us that this was the real reason behind the surprisingly early end of Mr Ryalls political career.

Media Spokesman for?HBL, Steve Fisher?would neither confirm nor deny that HBL when quizzed by Slightly Left of Centre.

We wait with baited breath for an announcement from Finance Minister English on what was meant to?help ?the?health sector save millions by combining the purchasing power of DHBs and using this to negotiate single contracts with suppliers.?

There are rumours floating around about Health Benefits Limited, but these allegations are somewhat more detailed.

Now what is interesting is I did a quick check through Hansard and can see that the opposition was pursing Ryall in parliament over Health Benefits Limited. It twigged a memory.

I remember back then commenting to several MPs that Ryall looked out of sorts and worried over the lines of questioning put to him.

Nothing came of my inquiries back then.

But now this has surfaced.

It will indeed be interesting to see where this goes and what Jonathan Coleman’s office has to say about it.

UPDATE: It seems that the Josh was onto something, Jonathan Coleman has announced that HBL is to be wound up:

The hotly debated Health Benefits Limited (HBL) group is to be wound down, and district health boards will be put in charge of a major programme to find $620 million of savings in their sector.

Crown company HBL was given the task in 2010 of finding $700 million of savings in back-office functions of district health boards for re-investment in health.

It has already achieved $300 million of that target, according to the Government, but has encountered opposition from unions and DHBs over business cases involving changes to food and catering and linen services in hospitals, and a single financial and IT system for all DHBs.

The changes are designed to use the scale and bulk-buying power of 20 DHBs to generate million of dollars in savings for use elsewhere in health, but unions have worried about job losses and DHBs about the substantial costs involved to them and whether the expected benefits would materialise.

The work went on hold prior to the election, but the new Health Minister, Jonathan Coleman, said recently the work was vital to the health system and should continue. He said the Government was considering options for moving to the implementation stage of the DHB shared services programme.

Dr Coleman has now told Radio New Zealand the Government agrees with a proposal put forward by DHBs to move implementation of the programme to a “vehicle” owned by DHBs. This is healthAlliance, a shared-services agency for the three Auckland DHBs.

“While HBL has made good progress in developing savings plans for DHBs, the responsibility for implementing these businss cases needs to sit with DHBs, ” said Dr Coleman.

“Now is the right time to consider the organisational options for DHBs to lead the implementation phase of the business cases on finance and procurement, laundry, national IT infrastructure, and food services.”

I wonder if inquiries to the ministers office might have scared up the release?of this news just a bit faster than was planned?


– Radio NZ