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Hospital upgrade won't end ice blocks on the wards - ASMS

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says it’s a shame that a multi-million-dollar upgrade package for Hawkes Bay Hospital does not include desperately needed air-conditioning for its wards.

The government has announced a $14.2 million package to redevelop and expand radiology and surgical services to increase capacity, create larger clinical spaces, and reduce waiting times.

ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton says it’s great to see Hawkes Bay Hospital getting some much-needed attention for its cramped and rundown facilities.

"But it begs the question as to why it’s so difficult to make money available to address the vexed issue of air-conditioning - or more to the point the lack of it," she says.

Last summer fans and ice blocks were being handed out and tinted window film was installed to help staff and patients cope with temperatures of more than 30 degrees.

The DHB estimates it would cost $7 million to retrofit air-conditioning in the wards but the money is not in the mix for its capital projects.

Sarah Dalton says Hawkes Bay Hospital desperately needs refurbishment but it’s difficult for DHBs to access funding to improve building conditions in both the short and long term.

"It doesn’t seem to make any sense that on the one hand investment is being made to modernise and improve patient care, and on the other patients are being sent back in time to overheated wards where their health and the health of the staff caring for them is being compromised."

ASMS has said it plans to seek advice from WorkSafe NZ on the legal requirements around safe building temperatures.

It has also been speaking to other unions including the Resident Doctors’ Association and APEX about the potential for joint action under health and safety legislation if there is no progress by this summer.

It will continue to push the issue with the DHB’s new Chief Executive Keriana Brooking who takes up her role next month.

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