Hospital plans $10m building for staff

By Mike Dinsdale

Health officials want a new multi-million dollar building at Whangarei Hospital to house all its Whangarei staff on the same site and they could look at a public/private partnership to fund the project.

The Northland District Health Board (NDHB) is exploring plans to build an office block, possibly up to three storeys high and costing under $10 million, to bring the 300 staff it has working at seven sites around Whangarei onto the main hospital campus.

NDHB chief executive Nick Chamberlain said the organisation leases 4,700sq m of mainly office space in Whangarei at a considerable cost to the organisation and a review of its office requirements has been done, with off-site leasing options seriously considered.

But, rather than continue to lease extra space in Whangarei, the review recommends NDHB develops a business case to build an office block on Whangarei Hospital campus.

"Development of an on-campus building offers a number of strategic benefits over off-campus options.

"Some 300 staff are currently scattered across Whangarei posing logistical problems and additional travel to and from the hospital.

It is possible that some staff will remain in other premises but they will be a small minority," Dr Chamberlain said.

There is increasing pressure for office space at the hospital, as buildings are demolished and the site is re-developed.

The demolition of Norton House to make way for the new mental health acute inpatient unit exacerbated the situation, and the pending demolition of wards 8 and 9 to make way for a new maternity unit adds more pressure.

Dr Chamberlain said the development of an on-campus facility is expected to take two years, with initial analysis of the preferred options indicating significant savings.

He said various options were available in terms of how they finance a new building including entering into a public private partnership deal, where a private sector partner funds and builds and the NDHB is the tenant, and sale and lease back where the NDHB pays for construction, sells the building to a third party and remains as the tenant.

Dr Chamberlain said there were already precedents for such plans with Waitemata DHB using sale and lease when it built its new administration block.

"In order to preserve our scarce capital funds we will most certainly be looking at options that help us achieve this," he said. "The new building is not part of the hospital, but rather a building that will house auxiliary services such as public health, community mental health, administration and clinical services."

- Northern Advocate

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