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New $15 million Waitakere mental health facility

Hon Annette King
Minister of Health

30 August 2005 Media Statement

Government announces new $15 million mental health facility for Waitakere

Health Minister Annette King has given the green light to a $15 million purpose-built mental health inpatient unit at Waitakere Hospital.

“The new 40-bed facility is another significant step in developing modern health infrastructure for the people of West Auckland,” she says. “The Government is committed to establishing the full range of health facilities that any growing region of this size expects and needs.”

Ms King, who officially opened the new Waitakere Hospital in February this year, says the new unit will be open in the first half of 2007, and she is delighted to be able to approve the project.

“The existing Te Atarau facility, even though it was only built in the 1990s, has been the subject of complaint by staff, patients, families and caregivers almost from day one. To say it hasn’t stood the test of time is an understatement. When I visited the facility last year, I was impressed by the dedication of staff working in the unit, but I was dismayed by the conditions in which they were working and in which patients were receiving treatment.”

Ms King says the new unit will address the present unit’s shortcomings, particularly in terms of privacy, lighting, ventilation and physical space. “Services will continue to be provided from Te Atarau while the new unit is built, but Te Atarau’s floor area is simply too small, and the standard of construction has proved to be simply not appropriate for an acute mental health unit.

“The new unit, to be built alongside Te Atarau on the site of the new Waitakere Hospital, is designed to deliver the quality modern health care the people of Waitakere deserve. The building has been designed to last 60 years, and planning has been done to refit it every eight years so that it continues to provide quality service well into the future.”

Ms King says the new building will:
 Provide a suitable therapeutic environment
- Allow patients to be appropriately separated and treated depending on the seriousness of their illness

- Provide facilities that encourage retention and recruitment of staff

- Provide private space for visiting family and whanau

- Have sufficient capacity to meet demand for intensive care and acutely mentally ill patients for those at high risk to themselves or others in the community

- Provide appropriate facilities in terms of functional space, design, configuration and access.

"Expanding the capacity in Te Atarau will help the DHB make further progress toward meeting levels of service outlined in the mental health blueprint so that we are providing care to those who need it.”

Ms King says the Te Atarau development continues the Government’s commitment to refurbishing and rebuilding the public hospital infrastructure in New Zealand. “We are in the middle of the largest public hospital upgrade programme ever undertaken in New Zealand, from Kaitaia in the north to Invercargill and Dunstan in the south, and in a host of other centres in between.

“While bricks and mortar don’t make a health system, there is no doubt that modern, well-equipped hospitals provide communities with reassurance. In that respect, it has been more than a generation since any Government has made the commitment to the health needs of the West Auckland communities that this Government has made.”

ENDS

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