Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Non-medical facility built at Middlemore without approval

Phil Pennington, Reporter

Middlemore Hospital, which desperately needs wards and operating theatres, has in the past eight years completed a multimillion-dollar non-medical building without government approvals.

Middlemore Hospital. Photo: RNZ / Jesse Chiang

RNZ was invited yesterday to tour Middlemore, which is looking to repair three leaky buildings which have faced a litany of problems.

The multiple meeting rooms in the Ko Awatea One building were virtually empty, while just across the parking lot were overfull wards. The hospital is reported to also need at least six new operating theatres just to keep up with current demand.

The Ministry of Health and Treasury require DHBs to prepare 10-year capital intentions for projects worth $10 million or more, including getting approval from both the regional capital committee and the ministry's Capital Investment Committee, plus approval from the Ministers of Health and Finance.

Acting chief executive Gloria Johnson said the building, completed in 2011, was thought to be under the $10m threshold.

However, capital works manager Chester Buller - who was on staff when the building opened in 2011 - told RNZ he knew it cost over $10m. He said its construction had nothing to do with him.

Dr Johnson and new chair Mark Gosche said it was the first they had heard of the problem.

It came on the heels of an internal investigation which uncovered the $12 million Ko Awatea Two building - which is about to open and houses a 250-seat lecture theatre - had not been properly approved at any level.

"This didn't go through our usual prioritisation processes and if it had, we believe that it would not have been prioritised above other needs," Dr Johnson said.

"Because it actually is a build that costs more than $10 million, it should've gone through regional and national approval processes as well, and it hadn't," Dr Johnson said.

Dr Johnson said she has alerted the State Services Commission and the Health Ministry. She said the newly-elected board had tried to pull out of Ko Awatea Two entirely early last year.

"It was immediately questioned as to whether or not this should be going ahead.

"We looked into whether or not we could stop the construction but we couldn't. We got legal advice and found it would've cost us more to pull out of it."

Dr Johnson said Ko Awatea Two was paid for by selling about $11 million of medical equipment, mostly sterilisers, to a finance company, then leasing them back.

This was an "unusual" method to get around the fact that usual sources of capital spending would not have been available for such a non-priority building, she said.

"It's a very bad deal because we're paying a very high rate of interest.

"It's equipment that is integral to the operation of the hospital - it's not as if at the end of the four years we'll be able to say 'we don't need sterilisers anymore'. We'll have to extend the agreement further."

She said she was not sure how this all had transpired, but added the former board chair and top managers did appear to have been very determined to get the two Ko Awatea buildings built.

RNZ is seeking comment from those in leadership at that time.

The Ministry last night told RNZ its review of Counties Manukau's financial management was not yet complete.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On America’s ‘Green New Deal’

‘Socialism’ is more of a political scare word than an objective condition. Even in the US, as Nate Silver’s 538 website pointed out this week there is polling evidence that modern Americans are inclined to treat socialism as meaning ‘equality’ rather than the ‘government ownership or control’ that Americans understood the term to mean back in the 1940s... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Nelson Fire And Climate Change

The Nelson fire has been a useful warning of things to come, given how climate change will (a) increase the likelihood of reduced rainfall and drought-like conditions in many parts of New Zealand, which – obviously – will raise (b) the fire danger and (c) the cost of providing the communities at risk with the enhanced firefighting capabilities that they’re going to need. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Listening To Ocasio-Cortez About Tax

In its attitudes to tax, New Zealand has been the last colonial outpost of Thatcherism. Change, however, may be in the air. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The US Exit From Afghanistan

To state the bleedingly obvious, US military forces have done a good deal of harm over the past 50 years from Central America to Asia to Africa. That history is now tending to obscure the harm that’s being done by the polar opposite impulse: American isolationism... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Brexit Vote Aftermath

So, what happens next? Normally when a major policy like this gets so crushingly rejected – by 230 votes, when Theresa May had reportedly been hoping for a defeat by “only” 70- 100 votes – the PM would resign and/or a fresh election called. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our History Of Selling Out The Kurds

For the past 100 years, the West has sold out the Kurds over and over again. So much so that it came as a surprise yesterday when US National Security advisor John Bolton appeared to walk back the latest act of betrayal... More>>