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Use of motels demonstrates perils of short-termism

23 September 2019

News that Wellington Hospital is using motels to deal with patient over-flow is a consequence of the short-termism that characterises new hospital builds in New Zealand, says Angela Belich, Acting Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

Ms Belich was commenting on a story in the Dominion Post on Friday that details the practice (

“Wellington Hospital is one of many hospitals that are too small for the population they serve. This is due to the woeful state of hospital planning in New Zealand, which effectively discourages District Health Boards from planning builds to an adequate specification.”

This has partly been driven by unrealistic expectations about community-based care and general practice evolving in ways that reduce the need for hospital beds.

There have also been perverse financial incentives, such as the charges on capital imposed on District Health Boards.

It is a symptom of the chronic underfunding and lack of strategic vision in the health sector for the past three decades, Ms Belich says.

Ms Belich said she hoped the Health and Disability System Review led by Heather Simpson will lead to the introduction of a sensible model for planning and building new hospitals in New Zealand.

“We are aware that Hawke’s Bay District Health Board is also experiencing particular stress at present with high presentations and pressure on beds.”

An ASMS Research Brief on the impact of capital charges can be read here:


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