The West Coast District Health Board has revealed Westport's
proposed $8 million Integrated Family Health Centre (IFHC)
will only provide a third as many beds as the hospital it's
The revelation helps explain why $10m has been carved off the
Responding to questions from The Westport News, DHB chief
executive David Meates said the centre would provide about 10
beds. Buller Hospital has 31 beds, half of them (Dunsford
Ward) for long-stay patients.
"We have opted for a facility design that is affordable and
sustainable and will house all of the health services people
use most often," Mr Meates said.
"Wherever possible, spaces will be flexible and
"At this stage, the planned number of beds is around 10, and
these would be multi-use beds."
The IFHC will be built on the Buller Hospital site, replacing
the hospital and Buller Health Medical Centre. It would
include consultation and clinic rooms, and facilities for
radiology and other allied health services, Mr Meates said.
"This approach has allowed us to reduce the overall size and
therefore projected cost of the building."
The $8m estimated cost approved by Government last week is
less than a third of the original cost estimate. The DHB will
seek private sector partners to help fund it.
Two years ago, the DHB proposed a $26m centre with 92 beds,
including 12 'flexible' beds, 44 rest home beds, 29 long-stay
beds and seven dementia beds.
The O'Conor Home subsequently decided to expand, so the DHB
cut rest home beds from its plan.
Last December, the DHB said the centre would cost about $18m.
It would include 10 multi-purpose beds and 20 long-stay beds.
Buller Hospital provides 31 beds (eight acute beds in Foote
Ward acute, 16 long-stay in Dunsford Ward, four maternity,
two emergency, one palliative care).
When the Government last week announced approval for the
centre, the DHB said it would provide "some inpatient beds".
Asked why the cost had plummeted, the DHB reiterated the
reason it gave when costs fell last December - that it no
longer needed to provide rest home beds because the O'Conor
Home was expanding.
However, that didn't explain why costs had fallen by another
$10m, on top of the $8m cut last year.
The Westport News repeated the questions, and Mr Meates
revealed the reduced bed numbers yesterday.
He said the DHB had refined its plans, and subsequent costs,
for the IFHC over recent years.
The DHB had also benefited from increased national experience
in designing and building smart and efficient IFHCs.
It had removed rest home beds from the equation partly
because the O'Conor Home was expanding, but also because it
was investing in better co-ordinating care for older people
and people with more complex needs.
"In this context, there is more work that we need to do about
how aged care services in Buller are organised.
"Questions around the best way to provide aged residential
care will be the subject of discussions with our own staff,
private providers and the community."
The DHB expects to begin the design process over the next few