Hospitals “around the country” are dealing with building issues, says health minister Dr David Clark.
However, there is not much that can be done if District Health Boards (DHBs) are not open to discuss the issues they are facing.
Clark raised the issue to Counties Manukau DHB acting chairman Rabin Rabindran. He expressed disappointment towards the condition of Middlemore Hospital’s buildings, where toxic mould have been spreading for years.
When Clark visited DHB’s south Auckland facilities, he was told about the urgent repair work at the Scott building due to weathertightness problems.
However, he was unaware of problems in other complexes, which surfaced when a report showed that Kidz First, the Superclinic, and the McIndoe building were also suffering from leaks and toxic Stachybotrys mould.
Raw sewage was leaking into the Scott building’s walls from deteriorating pipes, according to DHB chief executive Gloria Johnson.
Clark demanded a detailed plan of execution to replace assets and refurbish hospitals.
“We as a Government are willing to partner in resolving issues but we can only do that when we have a full information and a clear plan of the priorities of the DHB,” Clark said.
The estimated cost of refurb and replacements at the DHB range from $100m to over $1bn.
The DHB has been aware of the issue for years but did not ask for for extra funding as the past National government expected an annual surplus.
Clark has met with 18 out of the 20 DHBs since becoming minister, and has heard about many projects that needed funding.
“The upcoming Budget’s operating and capital allowances are bigger than any the previous government put forward … We’re not going to shy away from building public infrastructure and assets,” Clark said.
Nurses’ and doctors’ unions have expressed concern over staff and patient safety following the disclosures.
Despite so, Clark said all DHBs have reassured him that patients’ health is not currently threatened.
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