PPP funding options for hospitals not on table: HNZ

Health Minister Shane Reti says these are operational decisions for Te Whatu Ora. Photo:...
Health Minister Shane Reti. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Construction companies focused on private funding models have been told to stay away from government health briefings aimed at building hospitals more efficiently.

However, Health Minister Shane Reti said the government was still committed to investigating the controversial approach as per the coalition agreement.

Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora (HNZ) is holding briefings with construction companies this month about the building of hospitals and other health facilities.

In an update to the companies obtained by the Otago Daily Times, HNZ said private capital investment and public-private partnership (PPP) funding options were not being considered at present.

"Companies who are only interested in projects using these funding models would not benefit from attending these briefing sessions."

HNZ had brought public hospital buildings together into one portfolio through its infrastructure and investment group (IIG), the notice of information overview said.

The group was holding market briefing sessions to update the design and construction sector on its aspirations for health infrastructure delivery.

"With future significant redevelopment projects planned, HNZ IIG felt this was an appropriate time to engage with the sector.

"The briefings will set the direction that Health New Zealand is heading to set itself up to partner with the sector to deliver health infrastructure more efficiently, affordably and consistently."

Sessions were directed at local and international partners and were intended to "set the scene" for upcoming projects.

They were not part of a formal procurement process.

HNZ head of infrastructure delivery Blake Lepper said yesterday the briefings were not on particular procurement models.

Asked if HNZ was also investigating PPPs, he said the organisation was considering "the full range" of investment options for public health infrastructure.

"We will continue to work closely with the government on this."

The new Dunedin hospital was not a topic that would be covered as part of the briefings, he said.

Dr Reti said the government was committed to investigating build and lease-back arrangements and different options for funding infrastructure, including with private capital.

A statement from Act New Zealand MP Simon Court said investigating these options was a priority, and HNZ’s engagement was "just part of wider work".

"By allowing build and lease-back arrangements with reputable private investors, Kiwis can expect faster refurbishment of existing public healthcare infrastructure and the construction of new facilities," he said.

By contrast, Labour is ideologically opposed to public-private partnerships.

Taieri Labour MP Ingrid Leary has called for assurances in recent months that the new Dunedin hospital build will remain public and not revert to a private-public partnership.