Build­ings in bad shape

Whangarei Report - - HISTORY -

One-fifth of Auck­land and North­land hospi­tal fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing Star­ship chil­dren’s hospi­tal, are be­yond their life ex­pectancy or “not fit for pur­pose”, say health boards.

Health unions have flagged leaks, mould and as­bestos among a range of pos­si­ble prob­lems.

A new re­port shows bud­get con­straints have re­sulted in four dis­trict health boards (DHBS) in the North­ern re­gion hav­ing to pri­ori­tise fund­ing over main­te­nance.

As a re­sult sev­eral build­ings, in­clud­ing Whanga¯ rei Hospi­tal, North Shore Hospi­tal’s med­i­cal tower block, Star­ship build­ings and Gal­braith fa­cil­i­ties at Mid­dle­more, were now at or be­yond their life ex­pectancy.

At the same time the re­port says more than half a mil­lion pa­tients are ex­pected to move into the re­gion in the next 20 years adding pres­sure on “al­ready stretched” health ser­vices.

The four DHBS — North­land, Waitem­ata, Auck­land and Coun­ties Manukau — made the case for a new hospi­tal in their North­ern Re­gion Long Term In­vest­ment Plan re­port that was made avail­able late last week, but pre­sented to Health Minister David Clark back in March.

It fol­lows rev­e­la­tions this year that build­ings at Mid­dle­more Hospi­tal were leak­ing and dan­ger­ous mould and bac­te­ria were grow­ing in them.

While the new re­port doesn’t de­tail spe­cific prob­lems in the build­ings, health unions told the Her­ald “not fit for pur­pose” could mean any­thing from the prob­lems iden­ti­fied at Mid­dle­more through to the size and up­keep of rooms be­ing in­suf­fi­cient.

Res­i­dent Doc­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion na­tional sec­re­tary Dr Deb­o­rah Powell said she vis­ited a lab­o­ra­tory at the Whanga¯ rei Hospi­tal last week which she de­scribed as be­ing like some­thing from “me­dieval” times.

It had been ear­marked for a “des­per­ately needed” up­grade for more than a decade with no ac­tion.

North­land’s fa­cil­i­ties were in the worst con­di­tion of all four DHBS. Nearly a quar­ter were “very poor” or “poor”, while 48 per cent were “av­er­age”, 12 per cent were “good” and only 17 per cent were “very good”.

The sec­ond worst area was Coun­ties Manukau where 9 per cent of fa­cil­i­ties were “very poor” and 12.3 per cent were in “poor con­di­tion”.

Last Fri­day, the Gov­ern­ment an­nounced a $224 mil­lion fund­ing boost to im­prove surgery units and add new fa­cil­i­ties at North Shore and Whanga¯ rei hos­pi­tals.

Clark said this fund­ing would add new ca­pac­ity in Auck­land — but as the North­ern Re­gion LTIP con­firms, more would be needed. “We are com­mit­ted to do­ing just that and fur­ther ca­pac­ity an­nounce­ments will fol­low in fu­ture.”

Ian Powell, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Salaried Med­i­cal Spe­cial­ists, said he sus­pected prob­lems of leak­ing build­ings and mould, re­vealed at Mid­dle­more, would be com­mon in many other hos­pi­tals.

“Th­ese find­ings do not sur­prise me, un­der the pre­vi­ous Gov­ern­ment for eight of the nine years there has been sig­nif­i­cant un­der­fund­ing.”

Clark said since be­com­ing health minister it had been clear more needed to be in­vested in health for the grow­ing, age­ing pop­u­la­tion.

“The North­ern Re­gion LTIP is a very valu­able piece of work. It pro­vides a good pic­ture of long-term de­mand and de­mo­graphic pres­sures. I con­grat­u­late the four DHBS for the work that has gone into it.”

The re­port also showed that 57 per cent of NZ pop­u­la­tion growth in the next 20 years will be in the North, with more than 562,000 more peo­ple es­ti­mated to be liv­ing in the area.

Each DHB has also iden­ti­fied crit­i­cal site in­fras­truc­ture chal­lenges, in­clud­ing dis­rup­tions to hospi­tal wa­ter mains sup­ply, age­ing and vul­ner­a­ble power sup­ply in­fras­truc­ture, is­sues re­lat­ing to as­bestos and leaks.

‘DHBS] Nearly a quar­ter [of all four were ‘very poor' or ‘poor', while 48 per cent were ‘av­er­age', 12 per cent were ‘good' and only 17 per cent ’ were ‘very good'.


North­land’s fa­cil­i­ties were in the worst con­di­tion of all four DHBS, the re­port says.

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