West Coast hospital to be built in face of Covid-19 crisis

2:34 pm on 27 March 2020

The impasse over the completion of Te Nikau Grey Hospital is over -- courtesy of the Covid-19 emergency.

An artist's impression of Te Nikau Grey Hospital and Health Centre in Greymouth.

An artist's impression of Te Nikau Grey Hospital and Health Centre in Greymouth. Photo: Fair Use / Screenshot / Canterbury DHB

West Coast District Health Board chairman Rick Barker revealed at the board video conference meeting this morning that Fletcher Building and the Ministry of Health had resolved their long-standing differences over the construction contract.

"There was a phone conferenece yesterday; we now have an agreed path forward. And although construction is not an essential service (during the lockdown) work on Te Nikau has been exempted," Barker said.

"Fletchers will have access to all they need to complete the project and can source and transport staff and materials if they have to."

Only Te Nikau Hospital and the Canterbury DHB's Hagley facility had been granted the exemption under the emergency regulations, as essential services, he said.

"The outstanding issues are technical ones and we don't have a date yet (for opening), but by the end of next week we will have a plan for completion agreed to by Fletchers and the ministry."

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Deputy chairman Tony Kokshoorn said the news was something to celebrate.

"It's great they have recognised that it is an essential project now at this crucial time and it's really good that Fletchers and the ministry have sat down and worked out a pathway forward."

Living with the seismic risk of the old hospital had been a burden on the staff, Kokshoorn said.

"It's just adding to their stress and they don't need any more stress than what they've got at the moment, and with the cost overruns (the delay is causing) to our budget, this is good news -- it's something to celebrate."

The most recent reckonings, before the Covid-19 emergency, put the opening date of Te Nikau back to September.

Barker said he did not have a new date at this point.

"But by the end of next week I will have a report detailing timelines and dates, identifying all the key issues and when Fletchers and the Ministry of Health intend to resolve them by."

Some of the outstanding work was needed to be done by Australian experts and it was unclear if they would be able to travel to New Zealand, so efforts were under way to source that expertise in New Zealand, Barker said.

The fact that the lights were still on day and night at Te Nikau was a good sign and part of the commissioning process.

He expected contractors in the near future would be working odd hours, day and night, to complete the new West Coast hospital.

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