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Hospital battle not over yet - Prebble

The announcement by the Minister of Health Hon Wyatt Creech of a new tertiary hospital for Wellington at Newtown is wonderful news but the battle's not over, says Wellington Central MP Richard Prebble.

"Labour and the Alliance have never endorsed Newtown as the only sensible site for a tertiary hospital. Indeed, the Labour-inspired proposal to build a new hospital in Porirua has only achieved an 18 month delay. More seriously, the delay has put Wellington hospital behind Auckland in the queue.

"As MP for Wellington Central I do not accept the delay until the year 2003 before the hospital is opened. I do appreciate that a tertiary hospital is a very complex development requiring very careful planning and that hospitals take time to build. However Newtown is already zoned for a hospital. We already know the general outline of what's needed and I believe that with energy and commitment the hospital should be ready a year earlier.

"What we now need is for the Labour MPs to come out prior to the election with a strong commitment to stop their bickering over the site and accept what the health professionals, the independent experts and the public have been saying all along - that Newtown is the only logical site.

"If they do that, then I will agree not to point out to the public that I am the only MP who was willing to point out that the Graham Kelly/Bill English proposal to build a tertiary hospital away from the medical school, the oncology unit, the blood bank, and the other hospital facilities was a completely silly idea.

"As it is, I do think this announcement of a new hospital at Newtown is a practical demonstration of why Wellington needs a effective local representation. Pleased as I am with this decision, it should have been made a decade ago. It is an indictment on both major parties that the main hospital in the capital should be in a third world condition.

"Having said that, it's a great decision Wyatt, and you're showing real promise," Mr Prebble said.

ENDS

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