19 Dec 2012

Govt to fast-track upgrade of Greymouth hospital

9:24 pm on 19 December 2012

The Government says it will fast-track plans to rebuild Grey Base Hospital in Greymouth, after engineers' reports found many of the ageing buildings were earthquake-prone.

Minister of Health Tony Ryall made the announcement on Wednesday, saying a special Hospital Redevelopment Partnership Group will be established to progress and finalise the redevelopment by the end of April next year.

He says the Government will put $1m towards the work. It has already granted $2m for emergency repairs to earthquake-prone buildings.

Mr Ryall says the partnership group will work with West Coast District Health Board to develop a final business plan and also consider ways to speed up the Buller Health Redevelopment Plan, which was agreed to last year.

The DHB says the redevelopment will mean better, more sustainable health services.

Chief executive David Meates, who also leads the Canterbury District Health Board, says the state of the Greymouth hospital demands urgent action. He says the project, expected to cost between $40-50m, may result in a smaller hospital, but not reduced services.

Jobs to go as hospital laundry closes

Meanwhile, the West Coast DHB has also announced the closure of its laundry service at Grey Base Hospital from January next year. Twenty people will lose their jobs.

Mr Meates says the escalating costs of bringing the buildings up to seismic standard, along with a proposal by Health Benefits Limited to consolidate laundry services for all South Island DHBs, meant it was neither affordable nor responsible to invest in new laundry services locally.

He says the board has met with staff collectively to tell them the decision and commercial customers have also been contacted.