National Party health spokesman Dr Shane Reti says the government needs a credible plan to replace an earthquake-prone building at Middlemore Hospital; It was dubbed a potential public risk in 2018.
The Galbraith building in Hospital Road, in Ōtāhuhu, was home to the hospital's maternity services and birthing unit,
An independent report in 2018 found the building was earthquake-prone and estimates at the time said repairs would take two or three years to complete and cost $74 million.
But in November Counties Manukau Health decided to replace the building instead, after taking into account changes in healthcare, the age of the facility and the fact it contained significant amounts of asbestos.
However, it said a new building could be more than 15 years away.
Reti said Counties Manukau Health's projected time frame for replacing the facility was too far into the future.
"That's ridiculous," he said. "There needs to be a credible plan to replace it and there needs to be something sooner than that.
"We need to have buildings that are fit for purpose and there's no question this will need to be addressed. But what is the government's plan and where does it sit in terms of its priorities?"
Reti said the fact Middlemore was one of the busiest hospitals in the country with a high needs population meant such projects shouldn't be put on the back burner.
"Our hospital infrastructure has needed attention for some time. But from 2018 until now, it's not clear any significant progress has been made in improving the infrastructure across the sector."
He said that since DHBs would cease to exist under the government's health reforms from 1 July, any plans for new projects would be left to Health NZ to decide.
"If Andrew Little hadn't spent $486m on health reforms maybe the Galbraith building could have been remedied?"
In a statement, a Counties Manukau Health spokesperson said it was planning to demolish the building by 2035, but was unable to provide a deadline on when it would relocate services.
They said Counties Manukau was still developing a business case for future facilities at Middlemore Hospital, including for services currently housed in the facility.
Health Minister Andrew Little said work was already under way to relocate some services from the Galbraith building to other parts of Middlemore Hospital, or the Manukau Health Park.
He said because Auckland had a lower earthquake risk than other parts of the country, the DHB would have 35 years to replace the building from the time it received a rectification notice.
Little said Health New Zealand's health infrastructure unit was assessing the seismic risk of properties in the public health sector.
"Over the next two years, Health New Zealand will be developing the first New Zealand Health Plan, which will be supported by an investment plan to prioritise infrastructure investments across the country."
But Little refused to answer questions on whether funding for a replacement for the Galbraith building needed to be looked at urgently and if the DHB's 15-year timeframe was acceptable.
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