‘Persistent’ errors plague new hospital
A litany of design errors have been discovered in a delayed and costly new hospital, and top Christchurch medical professionals are anxious mistakes are not being fixed.
The Clinical Leaders Group, made up of high-ranking staff at the Canterbury District Health Board, has described the situation as ‘‘completely unacceptable’’.
The Ministry of Health has acknowledged errors and omissions with the acute services building, but has promised to fix any that impact on functionality before the building becomes operational next year.
Newly released correspondence from the clinical group to health board chief executive David Meates said a ‘‘persistence of errors and omissions’’ had been discovered in design documentation and new errors were raised ‘‘almost weekly’’.
Examples in the March letter included bed pan sanitisers being connected to mismatched pipes, the omission of radiation shielding from a general X-ray room, and doors not being designed for their intended function.
The group suggested errors were not being corrected because of time and cost pressures associated with the ministry-led project, and said the health board could end up paying for them.
However, a ministry spokeswoman said the cost to rectify errors would be covered within the project budget, and any that impacted on hospital functionality would be corrected before the building became operational.
Each stage of design had been approved and signed off by health board users, and a steering group with representation from the board had been set up to clear urgent issues, she said.
‘‘As with construction projects of this size and complexity, there will always be errors and omissions.’’
The building project is about $40 million over its original budget of $445m, and about a year behind schedule. It was meant to be completed in July, and is now expected to be handed to the board next June.
The delays have impacted recruitment and migration planning.
Health board member Aaron Keown stressed the importance of the Clinical Leaders Group raising concerns. He said extensive health board design work was being undermined, and alleged corners were cut due to cost and time pressures.
‘‘I was going to say the list of errors is as long as my arm, but it’s probably as long as my street.’’
The March letter contained a list of errors, although the group noted it was not exhaustive and there would likely be more given the rate of error identification. It included:
Sanitiser units with 100mm outlets being connected to 80mm pipes;
Omission of radiation shielding in one general X-ray room;
Medication fridges not fitting identified areas in medication rooms;
Walls where medication safes are to be hung have insufficient steel to support;
TV mounts being placed incorrectly in ceilings rather than walls;
Doors not designed for the intended function, requiring a health board review of hundreds of doors. Some secure rooms have had a hold-open added, rendering them insecure, while others meant to be held open are not able to.
Minutes from a May meeting of the Hospital Redevelopment Partnership group, responsible for overseeing the project, showed it asked for the contractor, CPB, to replace the sanitiser drainage pipes and to upsize those not installed.
The decision to retrofit was reversed after CPB put in a significant claim for time and money, leaving some sanitiser units with the
80mm pipes, minutes from the June meeting show.
Despite concerns being raised about the increased risk of blockages, a ministry spokeswoman said expert advice indicated there would be no reduction in performance once adaptors were fitted.
She said the pipe size was not an error because the engineers had designed them to be 80mm. The
80mm pipes were installed in 13 out of 54 locations, while the remainder were upsized to 100mm, she said.
Meates forwarded a copy of the letter from the Clinical Leaders Group to ministry critical projects director Michael Hundleby.
‘‘It would be fair to say that the clinical and organisational concerns regarding the above issues and ongoing uncertainty and slippage of dates is creating major risks regarding people and service delivery,’’ he said.
Health board executive lead for facilities Mary Gordon said on Wednesday the board continued to operate beyond its physical capacity, and ‘‘our acute services building can’t come soon enough’’.
In April, Meates said while the facility, described as the largest Government project in the postquake rebuild, would be fantastic, it would not provide extra capacity.