• Wyatt Creech

The Minister of Health today announced big improvements to the delivery of health care in the Wellington area - with a new tertiary public hospital, beefed up hospital services at Kenepuru and a project to fast-track better integration of health services for the people living in Porirua and Kapiti Coast.

"Today's announcement is not just about a brand new hospital, it is about delivering better services across the area to keep people healthy and well," Mr Creech said.

"We are looking to the future, taking into account changes in technology and clinical practice and making certain our facilities and health providers are delivering what the community needs."

In 2003 there will be:

· A new $160 million plus state-of-the-art tertiary hospital based at the current Wellington Hospital site in Newtown.

It will offer secondary services to the people of Wellington and high level tertiary services to the Wellington area, the south of the North Island and north of the South Island.

· Better and more services at Kenepuru Hospital including:
24 hour accident and emergency care
Medical inpatient beds and dedicated acute assessment beds
Increased specialist outpatient clinics
Enhanced maternity services
More day surgery
The extent of surgical inpatient beds will be finalised during the business planning process

It will offer secondary services to the people of the Porirua Basin and the Kapiti Coast.

· Co-ordinated and increased primary/community health services and clinics, linked to hospital based services for Porirua and Kapiti. A project manager will be appointed to work with existing health and disability networks and providers to improve residents' access to the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

The Health Funding Authority will buy specific services to build up primary care services. Today's announcement includes improved Pacific primary care services, asthma initiatives, diabetes initiatives and child health initiatives (associated with child health information strategy).

"We recognise that there is high population growth projected for Kapiti into the future. The HFA will explore extending the range of outpatient services provided on the Kapiti Coast in core specialities such as obstetrics, gynaecology, paediatrics, orthopaedics, general surgery and general medicine," Mr Creech said.

"There's been a lot of discussion about where the new hospital should be. We've had feedback from the public and health providers, and advice from officials and experts about how best to deliver the right health services in and around Wellington.

"Our bottom line has been to make decisions that deliver the best health services for everybody concerned.

"All the work shows there is no compelling reason at this stage to build the new regional tertiary hospital anywhere else than at Newtown. Some of the infrastructure is there, and the estimated cost is cheaper.

"Modern facilities mean better services. Gone will be the days of grotty old buildings and wards, with cramped conditions. We're delivering a 'new generation' modern hospital, providing the needed services, in a pleasant environment.

"During the consultation with the public, we heard a lot about the need to locate hospital services as close to communities as possible. That's the reason why we're beefing up secondary services for Porirua and Kapiti residents.

"This will make it easier to access the hospital services they use most often. People living in Kapiti and Porirua areas will now get a lot of hospital services much nearer to home.

"People in the Hutt Valley will also have their secondary services retained at Hutt Hospital.

"Getting more health services in the Porirua community is vital. We want Porirua people to have more accessible and appropriate community services. We will appoint a project team to work with the community and health providers to deliver on this.

"Many of the health problems facing the people of Porirua and Kapiti should not require hospital services. If left untreated (or inadequately managed), however, such relatively minor problems can easily escalate and turn into serious conditions requiring costly and time-consuming inpatient hospital care.

Mr Creech said the next step was to go through the full business planning process which would iron out any problems and finalise the details of the new hospital and services. "The changes should all be in place for 2003."