Unions join in meeting on new Grey Hospital

By Laura Mills

All unions have joined in a meeting at Grey Base Hospital this evening as concerns grow over the scale of the $60 million new hospital project.
The Ministry of Health now says the existing hospital buildings are in a worse state than initially thought and as a result it has asked the group in charge of the rebuild to consider a completely new hospital.
The business case lodged by the West Coast District Health Board last May was released to the Greymouth Star at the end of the year. It stated clearly that secondary (hospital) services would be downgraded.
The ministry’s National Health Board acting national director Michael Hundleby said “significant components of the business case have been superseded” and that the ministry and DHB were “currently exploring an alternative option for the delivery of the Greymouth facility”.
That prompted Grey Base Hospital senior doctor Paul Holt to go public with his concerns, saying it now appeared the Government was overruling local health experts who had spent years developing plans for the new hospital.
The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists last week called for a joint meeting and now all other unions represented at the hospital have agreed to be involved, including the Nurses’ Organisation and Public Service Association. As it has been called at late notice and some shift staff will be unable to make the 5pm start time, organisers are unsure how many to expect at the meeting.
In a letter to the Greymouth Star, Mr Hundleby said the ministry decided to take another look at the plans after a report last year showed a “significantly poorer condition of Grey hospital buildings”.
“This identified that a brand new facility may be a lower risk option compared to refurbishing existing buildings,” Mr Hundleby said.
The Government asked the partnership group in charge of the rebuild to fully explore the option of building a new hospital based on the same model of care developed by clinical staff in the May 2013 business case, he said.
The ministry recognised that the model of care contained in the detailed business case was supported by clinicians on the Coast and in Canterbury.
“The ministry also recognises that any new facility design needs to be widely supported by staff and to work within the planned budget. There will be wide consultation with staff before the reworked facility design is completed.”
Mr Hundleby said no decisions had been made on a preferred design.
The partnership group would provide regular reports on progress to staff and the West Coast community, he said.