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New mental health facility for Waikato

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Government has approved funding for a new acute mental health facility for Waikato which will provide better care and support to people with mental health and addiction issues.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Dr David Clark announced the $100 million project to replace the aging Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre during a visit to Hamilton.

"This Government has made taking mental health seriously a priority since day one," Jacinda Ardern said.

"It’s important New Zealanders can access the mental health and addiction services they need at an early stage. That’s why we’re building new frontline services as part of our record investment in mental health and addiction.

"Having the right facilities that support people’s treatment and recovery is also vital.

"A total of $200 million was set aside in Budget 2019 specifically for upgrading mental health and addiction facilities, as part of the $1.7 billion investment for capital projects. Today we can confirm this includes a new acute mental health facility at Waikato DHB.

Waikato DHB Commissioner Dr Karen Poutasi is heartened by this announcement that will be a significant financial investment for the new facility.

"This is excellent news, most importantly for the Waikato people, their whānau, and our communities as well as our staff," said Dr Poutasi.

"Now we know that we have funding prioritised from the Wellbeing budget, the build is something very much to look forward to. It is the perfect opportunity to co-design user and whānau centred healthy spaces and their healing effect on people," Dr Poutasi says.

The current Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre is no longer fit for purpose. It’s outdated and does not provide the right environment to support a focus on recovery and mental wellbeing for patients, despite the hard work by dedicated staff.

"A new purpose built facility will provide a modern environment with patient and whānau centred spaces," Jacinda Ardern said.

Health Minister Dr David Clark says it’s important our mental health and addiction facilities are not only purpose-built, but they also need to meet the growing demand for services.

"Over the last nine years, there’s been a 72 percent increase in people seen by Waikato DHB’s mental health and addiction services. Each month, there are nearly 100 admissions to the Henry Rongomau Bennet Centre, which has 53 beds.

"This new facility is expected to have capacity for an extra 10-20 more beds. That will make a real difference.

"Today’s announcement gives the Waikato DHB the greenlight to push ahead with its planning and development of its indicative business case.

"The design will continue to be informed by people with lived experience of mental health and addiction issues, their whānau, iwi and community providers, as well as staff and other health and social services," David Clark said.

Planning and design work continues alongside the business case development. The indicative business case is expected to be complete early next year, followed by the detailed business case in early 2021. Funding is subject to approval of the final business case. Grounds works are expected to start in 2022, with the facility due to open in 2023.

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