‘Per­sis­tent’ er­rors plague new hos­pi­tal

The Press - - Front Page - Oliver Lewis oliver.lewis@stuff.co.nz

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.

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