The outgoing Counties Manukau DHB acting chairman has publicly weighed in on what Government ministers were told about the state of buildings at Middlemore Hospital, and has contradicted claims made by Health Minister David Clark.
Rabin Rabindran told Radio New Zealand today he did not apologise to Clark, as Clark has claimed, for not telling him about issues with other buildings at Middlemore Hospital.
Rather, he said sorry if the minister thought the DHB had not complied with the no surprises policy, in which ministers are briefed about issues likely to be in the public arena.
Rabindran also said Clark was shown pictures of mould in other buildings at Middlemore Hospital and commented that he had "seen worse".
The claims and counterclaims about who knew what now centre around a meeting at the hospital attended by Clark and an adviser, Rabindran and acting chief executive Gloria Johnson.
Clark says he was not told at the meeting about issues with buildings other than the Scott Building.
Leaked documents showed Johnson said she "specifically told" Clark during the meeting there were similar problems in multiple buildings.
Clark dismissed that by saying Rabindran had already apologised for not mentioning the extent of the problems.
Rabindran said today he had been upset when he heard the minister explain the apology in the media later.
"I was not apologising for that, I was apologising if he thought we had breached the no surprises policy."
He said he had been in Australia on March 22 when he received a call from Clark who was unhappy he had not been informed of issues in other buildings at Middlemore and reminded Rabindran of his obligations under the no surprises policy.
"I said 'I'm sorry minister if you feel we have not complied with the no surprises policy'," Rabindran said.
He wasn't sure what it was that the minister thought he wasn't told.
"It was only when I called Dr Gloria Johnson that I came to know that what the minister was saying was that he was not told about the other buildings during his visit."
He texted the minister later that evening to confirm the documents provided on his visit to the hospital and Johnson's clear recollection of what she told him.
Rabindran also said that at the March 13 meeting, a general manager had shown Clark photos of the problems in the buildings.
"There were photos there that were not limited to the Scott Building. There was one of the Manukau SuperClinic which showed active fungal growth. In fact the minister, when he looked at those photographs said well, he has seen worse," Rabindran said.
Clark said this evening he was not going to respond to the "ongoing selective leaking of information coming out of the Counties Manukau DHB.
"I have a very clear memory of what I was told during my visit to CMDHB on March 13. I was told about the Scott Building, but other specific buildings were not discussed."
Clark said he had read the documents he had been given and while they contained some additional information about buildings that required remediation, nowhere did it mention mould or rot.
"My recollection of my discussions with Rabin Rabindran are also crystal clear. I made clear to him my disappointment that the other building issues were not raised with me face-to-face during the March 13 visit and he apologised for that.
A number of buildings at Middlemore Hospital are plagued by problems including rot and toxic mould caused by leaking, asbestos, seismic and power supply issues, and sewage leaks.