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Hodgson: Opening of Neurosurgical Unit at Waikato

Hon Pete Hodgson - Speech for the opening of the new Neurosurgical Unit at Waikato Hospital 4pm today

Good afternoon to you all. It is a special privilege as Minister of Health to be invited here today to celebrate with you the opening of the new Neurosurgical unit at Waikato Hospital.

In December 2002 this Labour-led Government made a commitment to the communities of Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, Taranaki and Lakes. We heard your concerns that people needing neurosurgical services had to be transferred to Auckland for treatment.

Auckland District Health Board provides an excellent service and I'm sure you will continue to work closely with them. But Auckland can seem a very long way from home, particularly if you are recovering from surgery and separated from the support of family and friends.

In 2002, the Government promised you would have a neurosurgery service. While three and a half years have elapsed since then, I know that Waikato District Health Board has undertaken a deliberate, thorough and careful process to establish the service from recruitment, through to building theatre and ward space, to sourcing highly specialised equipment.

A priority of this Labour-led Government in recent years has been the investment in health services and infrastructure.

Our government has undertaken one of the largest hospital building and refurbishment programmes in living memory. We have opened brand new hospitals in Invercargill, Central Otago, and Hawera. New provincial hospitals have also been approved during our time in office for Kaitaia, Thames and Horowhenua. Currently we are considering proposals for Whanganui Hospital and for Wairau Hospital in Blenheim. As well, there are major new hospital buildings in Auckland Central, West Auckland, and Christchurch – and new investments approved at a number of other sites.

These huge investments, running at in excess of a billion dollars, reflect the priority our government gives to the public health service. We want high quality facilities operating to best practice across New Zealand. We believe in investing in the capability of the public hospital system, because most New Zealanders rely on it in time of health need.

For the DHB, the opening of these services means that the Waikato District Health Board now offers a full range of tertiary services across all major specialities (except transplant services). The neurosurgical unit will enhance the capabilities of other tertiary services at Waikato Hospital and enhance its standing as a teaching hospital. Congratulations.

Like me, Annette King will be taking great satisfaction in this day. Another colleague of ours who has worked hard for this outcome, but couldn't be with us today is Martin Gallagher. Let me thank all the people who have been involved in this project, but who were unable to attend.

On behalf of the Government I wish the Board, staff, future patients and their family and friends, the very best from this new service.


ENDS

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