Government upgrades local hospitals throughout NZ

  • 75 new standard inpatient beds
  • 355 existing inpatient beds converted to isolation or negative-pressure environments
  • 23 new Intensive Care (ICU) and High Dependency (HDU) beds, and 8 temporary bed conversions to ICU
  • $100m in fast-tracked health capital projects confirmed, supported by $544 million operational funding

The Government will upgrade 24 local hospitals next year to support planned and routine care, to ensure non-COVID patients are safe when COVID patients are being treated. This includes projects announced last week to add ICU capacity to some hospitals.

“With high vaccination rates and better treatments and prevention methods, we are shifting to better support planned and routine care while also safely caring for COVID-19 patients,” Health Minister Andrew Little said.

“Treating COVID patients can be disruptive to other treatment as additional precautions are taken for infection prevention and control. Today’s announcements are about minimising that disruption.

“We asked DHB regions to prioritise projects that would strengthen local hospitals to provide planned and routine care in the age of COVID-19, and could start as soon as possible in 2022, with some projects completed as early as March.

“Today I can confirm we will fund 36 different local hospital upgrades throughout the country, and the operational costs to support them, at a total cost of $644 million from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. This includes the ICU and other upgrades at North Shore, Tauranga and Christchurch that were announced last week.

“The previous National Government left a legacy of massive underinvestment in health infrastructure, including ICU. For two whole years National didn’t invest a single cent in health infrastructure, despite a growing and ageing population. By contrast, the Labour Government has already put $6 billion into health infrastructure,” Andrew Little said.

“Now in 2022 we will also add 75 new standard inpatient beds in hospitals.

“Additionally, 355 existing inpatient beds will be converted into isolation or negative pressure environments, and a number of hospitals will have ventilation upgrades. These upgrades will allow routine and planned care to continue and patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 to be treated, while helping to protect all patients, visitors and staff from the virus.

“The upgrades include 23 new ICU/HDU beds, as well as 8 temporary bed conversions to ICU.

“New Zealand’s success in responding to the pandemic means there has never been more than 11 COVID-19 patients in ICU at any one time. The vast majority of people who get COVID won’t need to go to hospital, let alone need an ICU bed. Increasing ICU/HDU capacity is part of the wider plan to rebuild our health system,” Andrew Little said.

Editor’s notes:

  • Approved Projects (attached)
  • The Rapid Hospital Improvements Programme sets aside $644 million from the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. It is made up of $100 million for capital and $544 million for operational costs including staffing. The Programme will be rolled out alongside an international health workforce recruitment campaign.
  • The funding in today’s announcement is separate from the approved $65.1 million which was recently announced for a new six-bed ICU facility, two negative-pressure rooms, and a new 30-bed ward at Waitakere Hospital in Henderson, Auckland.