New hospital gets nod

By Laura Mills
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Grey Base Hospital will be flattened and almost entirely rebuilt after the Government yesterday announced a $60 million loan for a new hospital.
At this stage, only the more recent corporate building and dementia unit are expected to stay.
“By and large we are looking at a totally new build,” West Coast District Health Board chief executive David Meates said this morning.
“It’s absolutely fantastic.”
Mr Meates said the existing infrastructure was “broken”, and the flat roof had leaked from day one.
Greymouth would now get “one of the most attractive” rural hospitals in New Zealand.
Although plans had yet to be developed the new hospital would have between 56 and 62 beds, compared to 70 currently.
Mr Meates said the existing hospital was rambling and a purpose-built facility would be more flexible to handle the peaks and troughs.
When asked if $60m would be enough for a ‘greenfields’ redevelopment, he said they would move quickly to preliminary design, which would help answer that question.
It would require “smart thinking”, he said, and there would always be questions about whether it was enough.
“It’s a huge amount for the Coast. It offers a sense of future. People are starting to say ‘this is now real, we want to be part of it.’”
Asked if there could be service cuts at Greymouth, he said there was no intention to change the “direction of travel”.
Health Minister Tony Ryall, who announced the funding during question time in Parliament yesterday afternoon, said the hospital would be replaced with new wards, emergency department and operating theatres.
The current hospital facilities had significant seismic issues, with section 124 earthquake notices issued for a number of buildings including accident and emergency, Hannan and McBrearty wards, the laboratory, boilerhouse, acute community and mental health, and the medical administration block (north building).
The plan includes an integrated family health centre, which will co-locate GP practices on the hospital site.
Design work for the new hospital will start shortly, with recommendations to be lodged with the Government early next year. Site work is expected to begin in late 2014, with the new facility completed by the end of 2016.
The West Coast DHB began reviewing redevelopment options eight years ago, and last year the Government set up a Hospital Redevelopment Partnership Group to support and speed up the rebuild.
Mr Ryall said the partnership group would continue to oversee the next stage.
“The Government has also given the green light for design work to begin for an integrated family health centre in Westport, which the West Coast DHB will seek private sector partners to develop.”
That will probably cost between $6 and $8m, on top of the $60m for Greymouth.
West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor said the announcement was good news but he wanted to see the details.
“The devil is in the detail.”
He said it was the services within the building — not the building itself — that were more important.
“It’s a welcome announcement that was promised years ago,” Mr O’Connor said.
Green Party list MP Kevin Hague, a former DHB chief executive, said he was pleased there was now some certainty after “the constant circling the minister has engaged in”.
However, Mr Hague said when he was in the seat six years ago the cost of a new hospital was $100m.
“I’ve always been sceptical about the $60m figure.”
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said it was “fantastic news” because without good health services people would not move to the Coast.
“Tony Ryall told me three years ago we were definitely getting a hospital, I take my hat off to him,” Mr Kokshoorn said.