Funding for extra ICU capacity


Care for the sickest New Zealanders is getting a major boost from the Government, with plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on expanding intensive care-type services, Health Minister Andrew Little announced today.

“Through good planning, we have avoided what the COVID-19 pandemic has done in some countries, where hospitals have been over-run,” Andrew Little said.

“Our ICU facilities have remained available for every person needing that level of care, whether they have COVID-19 or something else.

“That remains the situation. We’ve got about a hundred ICU beds in Auckland alone and the ability to surge to 550 ICU-type beds across the country if we need to – far more than we are likely to need in the near future.

“But as the country shifts to the traffic-light system, we need to make sure we can cope with the unexpected. As I have said before, I have asked district health boards to identify ways of increasing intensive-care capacity within six months, such as projects to convert unused wards.

“Cabinet has earmarked $100 million of capital funding from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to accelerate these ICU projects. And there is another $544 million of operational funding available to fund ongoing costs like staffing.

“The first hospitals to receive money from this fund are North Shore, Tauranga and Christchurch, and I expect to announce funding for further projects soon.”

Also this week, the Government has approved $65.1 million for a new six-bed ICU facility at Waitakere Hospital in Henderson, Auckland, along with two negative-pressure rooms and a new 30-bed ward.

“This will be the first ICU facility at Waitakere Hospital,” Andrew Little said.

“As well as boosting the overall ICU capacity in Auckland, locating it at Waitakere means people in West Auckland can be cared for close to home.

“The reality is, despite record population growth, the previous Government starved the health system of the investment needed to maintain, let alone increase, hospital capacity.

“The Labour Government has got a $6 billion programme under way to fix that, and today’s announcement boosts our ability to provide top-level to those who need it,” Andrew Little said.