21 Nov 2018

Govt announces $80 million to fix Middlemore Hospital

6:57 pm on 21 November 2018

The government is investing $80 million to fix long-standing problems with buildings at Middlemore Hospital and the Manukau SuperClinic.

Health Minister David Clark making the announcement.

Health Minister David Clark making the announcement. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Counties Manukau District Health Board chair Vui Mark Gosche said they had done well, despite getting a lot less than nearby District Health Boards (DHBs).

The $80 million announced today for four projects at the South Auckland hospital and clinic compares with earlier announcements of $275m for Auckland Hospital and $200m for North Shore Hospital upgrades.

This was not a reflection of failing to lobby hard enough, Mr Gosche told RNZ.

"We work together across the four northern region DHBs, so look at this as a package for the whole region because we shift people across boundaries," he said.

"What ever is spent in the region helps the whole lot of us."

The $80m will cover the reclad of one rotting building - the children's hospital Kidz First - though Middlemore has several other leaky buildings.

Funding to upgrade the Superclinic is not enough to cover the $60m cost of recladding the leaking building.

"We don't stop here with this announcement," Mr Gosche said.

"We continue to work ... for next year's allotment."

A reclad of the Scott building has separate, earlier funding - but the work has been held up by consenting delays. This has hindered board's ability to firmly estimate what recladding all its buildings will cost.

A year ago, Counties Manukau estimated it needed more than $1.4 billion to upgrade all its facilities. Safety warnings about its buildings, including earthquake-prone ones, extend back 18 years.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said improving the state of hospitals was a government priority.

"Problems with leaky buildings, including rot and mould in the walls, and earthquake-prone facilities are all symptoms of years of neglect and underinvestment," she said in a statement.

The first time visiting Middlemore Hospital as Prime Minister, Ms Ardern was welcomed with a pōwhiri and joined by staff members of the hospital as well as official representatives from both the government and the Counties Manukau DHB.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was welcomed with a pōwhiri at the announcement.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was welcomed with a pōwhiri at the announcement. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Making the announcement of $80 million in funding to upgrade and repair the hospital's facilities, she spoke highly of the work done by the staff in the Counties Manukau DHB.

"For all of the coverage that there has been of late around Manukau, there has never been anything wrong with the heart that is here," she said.

The Nurses Organisation has described the government's funding boost as a small step on a long road.

Acting lead organiser Andy Hipkiss said $80 million would go a long way to fixing the rotting and mouldy buildings.

But he said it would not be the "be all and end all".

The hospital has been deteriorating for years and needs significant investment, Mr Hipkiss said.

But he acknowledged this boost would benefit the patients and staff.

"It will hopefully allow them to come to work confident that the buildings are fit for purpose."

The projects chosen as priority were "just a small part of a very widespread problem" at the hospital, he said.

"We'll get to know how far the funding will stretch - it's certainly a good start.

"A hospital has to be clean, safe and it has to be absolutely fit for purpose."

Watch Health Minister David Clark making the announcement here:

Minister of Health David Clark echoed the prime minister's praise of the staff at Middlemore Hospital.

He said Middlemore and Counties Manukau SuperClinic staff are faced with some of the biggest challenges across DHBs.

"Those staff that are working in facilities deserve to be working in quality facilities that are well maintained."

The funding will be put towards four projects in Counties Manukau DHB

  • Recladding the Kidz First Building, as part of a phased plan to reclad clinical buildings
  • Relocating the radiology department from the aging Galbraith building to the Harley Gray building
  • Establishing a radiology hub at the Manukau SuperClinic site (currently patients have to be transferred to Middlemore for CT and MRI services)
  • Critical infrastructure work at the Manukau SuperClinic including new plant room/substations, IT, medical gases and parking - all needed to support expansion of clinical services.

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