A Southern District Health Board member is imploring the
board to be upfront about the strings attached to rebuilding
Speaking at yesterday's meeting, Richard Thomson said the
board might need to find an additional $30 million a year for
the charge on the capital. He was not sure how the
deficit-ridden board would do so. It seemed ''almost
Board members were also given an indication of the timeframe
for the rebuild. A completed hospital was five to seven years
away, finance director Peter Beirne said.
Mr Thomson said health board staff and the public needed to
understand the implications of the cost of the rebuild.
He wanted to know to what degree affordability concerns
influenced the design of the rebuild. The board should be
transparent and open, and must not leave the issue ''lurking
in the background''.
Board member Dr John Chambers reminded members of recent
controversy on the West Coast, where a group led by
clinicians devised a Grey Base Hospital rebuild plan, and
then discovered the National Health Board had been planning a
Chief executive Carole Heatly said lessons were learnt from
other places, and the board was working closely with
Wellington health and finance officials.
The new hospital would be designed after assessing future
health needs and the region's other facilities, including
Mr Beirne said the board had a productive meeting on Monday
with Wellington officials, where some timeframes were agreed.
He said the leaking surgical theatre suite was a separate
issue, and would be fixed as soon as possible.
Chairman Joe Butterfield said Mr Thomson had made a ''fair
comment'' about the rebuild.
The board would need to cut costs further to finance the
capital charge, he confirmed. Contacted afterwards, Mr
Butterfield said the cost was likely to range from $250
million to $500 million.
He believed it would be at the lower end of the range, but
emphasised the project was in its very early stages.
''There's always compromises when you build. You never build
Asked if the board would be upfront with the community, he
said: ''Yes, but I've got nothing to tell them right now.
It's too early.''
He said the board must become more efficient in how it
provided care, including keeping patients away from hospital.
''Hospitals are very expensive places to look after people.
If you can do it in primary care, it's cheaper, and often,