Labour's $20 million commitment to a full rebuild of Buller Hospital, if elected, was music to the ears of those fighting the National government's plans for a private-public partnership.
But today they were not holding their breath.
Reacting to the coalition news, both Steve White and Phyllis Phipps, leaders of the Buller Hospital Action Group which stood against National's plan for a private-public partnership for a smaller health centre, said there would be no let up yet to ensure Westport gets the fit-for-purpose and fully publicly funded replacement hospital that Labour had promised.
"We have a nice political commitment with a smile, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything," Mr White said this morning.
Mrs Phipps said they would keep their "fingers crossed" and the group would continue to work to ensure Labour "keep to their promise".
"Hopefully they stick with what they said," she said.
Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern, in Greymouth just prior to the election, promised a new Buller Hospital on the existing site with all of the $20m capital cost to be funded by the Crown. There would be no public-private partnership and Labour would ensure a fit-for-purpose hospital "which reflects the community it serves," and on the existing site.
Labour would "immediately stop any further planning" for the much smaller site across the road, pushed by National under a new funding model and which did not cover the total cost.
"There will be no third party funding for this; the Buller Hospital will remain owned by all New Zealanders, as it should be. Building the hospital using Crown finance will save up to an estimated $1m in fees," Ardern said.
White greeted the Labour-NZ First led coalition as "reasonably good news, although I put a very big disclaimer around that".
"While it's positive for our case, it doesn't necessarily mean we will get what we want," he said today.
The ambitious coalition programme for the first 100 days meant it was likely the work to reconfigure health bureaucracy and mindset, along with coming up with plans for a reconfigured hospital project, would be delayed. It would appear to me they may not be able to manage this hospital process for the next year or so."
- Greymouth Star