28 Jan 2017

Water contamination crisis cost DHB more than $760k

6:09 am on 28 January 2017

The cost of the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak last year has cost the local health board over $760,000.

One of at least five water tankers set up around the town.

One of at least five water tankers set up around the town during the crisis. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

More than 5000 people - a third of the town - were hit by gastrointestinal illness when Havelock North's drinking water became contaminated with campylobacter in August.

A report released this week found the decision not to declare a state of emergency over the water contamination aggravated the situation.

The report written for the Hastings District Council concluded the timing of the notice people were given of the outbreak hindered response.

The Hawke's Bay District Health Board said costs directly related to the outbreak were approaching $766,000 as at December 2016.

Health board chief executive Kevin Snee said the costs covered clinical supplies, hydration management, surveys, and lab and legal expenses.

Dr Snee said the costs, which were expected to rise, would be tabled at the health board's February meeting.

The DHB is in discussions with the Ministry of Health to determine whether it could recoup some of the costs relating to the outbreak.

Breakdown of costs (as at December 2016):

  • Clinical supplies - $31,000
  • Hydration management - $18,000
  • Administration and communication expenses - $28,000
  • Lab expenses - $8000
  • Legal expenses - $99,000
  • Surveys - $36,000
  • Staff sickness - $216,000
  • Staff cover and costs - $330,000 - (e.g. covers public health, SMO cover, ED and ICU expenses)

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