A decision to terminate plans for a Ronald McDonald House at Middlemore Hospital is being reviewed.

The Herald on Sunday revealed in October that Counties Manukau Health had dropped the plans after reported opposition from its public health specialists to the DHB being associated with McDonald's.

But it has now emerged the decision was made without the DHB's elected board having been informed, and chairman Dr Lester Levy said it needs to be presented to the board for consideration.

"The board has asked for the matter to be revisited by management, with definitive proposals to be widely sought by management and for these to subsequently be brought before the board for consideration," Levy told the Herald on Sunday.


"Once definitive proposals have been sought and received the board itself will undertake the consideration and make the decision in the context of all of the relevant information. If Ronald McDonald House Charities responds with a proposal, their response would be fully considered by the board."

The decision to drop plans for the Ronald McDonald House had been made by the DHB's executive leadership team, Levy said. Neither he nor other board members had been informed at the time, he said.

"The executive leadership team made this decision several months ago, under their delegations. In essence the board does delegate operational matters to the chief executive and executive leadership team. However, in this case it would have been prudent to have escalated this opportunity to the board for consideration as it is a matter of potential wider public interest."

"My first notification from management was when there was a media enquiry," Levy said. "I should have been informed under the no surprises practice."

Levy said the executive leadership team "had an approach from Ronald McDonald House Charities via the Middlemore Foundation to express an interest in funding the development of onsite family accommodation facilities".

"The executive leadership team thought that a facility of this type was desirable at Middlemore Hospital and they were very happy to accept philanthropic funding, but were concerned about the brand association under advice from their public health physicians.

"This due to the issue of obesity, including amongst the young community, in the Counties Manukau district, so that anything that might make it appear that the DHB endorses fast food was felt would be sending the wrong message.

"The decision taken at the executive leadership team meeting was that the DHB definitely needs this type of facility and they would look into the development of onsite family accommodation facilities as part of a Middlemore Hospital Facility Development Plan and discuss this opportunity with the Middlemore Foundation to see whether there were other sources of philanthropic funding for this."


Ronald McDonald House Charities NZ CEO Wayne Howett said he not learnt the DHB's board had asked for the revisiting of the approach for a Ronald McDonald House at Middlemore Hospital.

"We were not aware and therefore cannot provide any comment," Howett said.

Food and nutrition writer and Herald on Sunday columnist Niki Bezzant said the fact the approach would now be reviewed "sounds like a sensible decision.

"And probably something that's going to help a lot of families in that area."

When it was revealed in October plans had been dropped, Bezzant said: "I have seen how the Ronald McDonald House at Auckland Hospital works and it's a pretty amazing place and there's really no hint of the influence of fast food there except that [McDonald's] put up the money to pay for [the facility]."

Meanwhile, on Thursday a petition with more than 12,000 signatures was presented to the Southern District Health Board calling for it to back a proposed a Ronald McDonald House.

If given the green light, it would feature in the Dunedin Hospital rebuild.

Southern District Health Board commissioner Kathy Grant said the DHB itself had not taken a stance on the matter, the ODT reported. The board was consulting its clinical and community health councils on the need for dedicated family/whanau space in the new hospital.

The first Kiwi Ronald McDonald House opened in Wellington in 1991 and the charity now operates two Ronald McDonald Houses in Auckland and one each in Wellington and Christchurch. It has other rooms and services across the country, too. "Last year alone we supported over 3700 families and provided over 41,000 nights of accommodation," Howett said in October.