Ronald McDonald House spurned by DHB

Middlemore Hospital Photo: NZME
Middlemore Hospital Photo: NZME

A charity supported by fast food giant McDonald's has been spurned by a New Zealand public hospital.

Ronald McDonald House Charities NZ, a funder of accommodation and other services for families with children in hospitals, has been rejected by Middlemore Hospital because of the association with fast food.

Counties Manukau Health, the district health board that runs Middlemore, said there were discussions with the charity to fund a facility for families to use.

"The executive management team looked at this proposal very carefully, as proposals of this nature can be very divisive with staff and public alike.

"On balance, we decided to take the advice of our public health team of doctors and to respectfully decline taking discussions further.''

Ronald McDonald House Charities NZ chief executive Wayne Howett told NZ Newswire Counties Manukau's stance was at odds with other DHBs.

He said McDonald's was a funding partner and "that's where it ends''.

"Our mission has nothing to do with fast food,'' he said.

The charity started in Philadelphia in 1976. The New Zealand version helped more than 3700 families last year in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

It has been providing services in Wellington for 25 years and has two houses as well as 13 rooms inside Starship, the children's hospital operated by neighbouring Auckland District Health Board.

New Zealand has a publicly funded health system operated by regional district health boards.

Mr Howett said other DHBs had asked about the relationship with McDonald's and had been happy when it was explained to them.

No-one from Counties Manukau had discussed the issue with him or had come to see what the charity did.

The charity funds a mobile dental unit for the Counties Manukau DHB.

The charity provides rooms with ensuites for families with sick children, lounges, transportation, holiday services and holiday programmes.

About a third of New Zealand children are overweight or obese.

This figure rises to 60% of Pacific Island children and 40% of Maori children, according to the NZ Nutrition Foundation. 

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